Biden administration defends decision not to assert executive privilege over Trump files in White House – KION546

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN reporter, Crime and Justice

The House of Representatives and the Biden administration on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to deny former President Donald Trump’s attempt to keep more than 700 pages of documents relating to January 6 secret.

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The House select committee argues that it desperately needs the papers for its sprawling investigation into the deadly insurgency, and that Trump has failed to show how he would be hurt enough to prevent the files from being released. And the Biden administration is defending its decision that the Jan.6 White House tapes should not be protected by executive privilege. Trump disagrees, and his insistence on secrecy prompted him to take legal action in October.

The case, a major one over presidential authority and executive privilege as well as House inquiries, raises unresolved questions about a former president’s power to control information from his White House, even when the he current administration and Congress support the transparency of files.

“Allowing a former president to override the decisions of a sitting president would be an extraordinary intrusion into the latter’s ability to discharge his constitutional responsibilities,” lawyers for the Ministry of Justice wrote in the file on Thursday. . They represent the National Archives, which currently holds the Trump-era White House documents.

With the Congressional elections in November 2022 and the possibility of Democrats losing control of the House, the select committee argued that time is running out.

“The authorization of the select committee will expire on January 3, 2023, and each day that passes handicaps the investigation of the select committee, forcing it to proceed without the benefit of the documents to which it is entitled”, wrote Thursday the lawyers of the Chamber. .

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Their responses come a week after Trump asked judges to review the case and keep the files a secret while the case is in court. And the House and administration are now repeatedly hinting at the possibility that the House committee thinks it has more to find out about talks by federal officials to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory – even possible wrongdoing by senior officials.

“Far from ‘fishing’ or seeing the former president and his advisers as a ‘case study’,” writes the DOJ, using Trump’s team against him, “the Committee is investigating events involving [Trump] and other White House officials who have an identifiable factual basis and relate to a specific and unprecedented attack on Capitol Hill. This survey undoubtedly serves legitimate legislative purposes. And unlike [Trump], these legislative purposes are sufficient to substantiate the Committee’s request even if certain deputies [of Congress] also believe that the investigation may “disclose a crime or wrongdoing”.

The Justice Department also argues that recent White House negotiations with the House to withdraw or defer requests for certain national security files show that the committee has reduced some of its requests. Previously, the White House and the House have been criticized for Biden’s willingness to disclose the West Wing files and for the large amount of documents the committee is reviewing.

Trump “is not claiming that even a single page of these documents is beyond the scope of the Committee’s legitimate investigation,” the Department of Justice also wrote. “President Biden has not strayed from protecting those interests” of the presidency protecting communications around the president.

Hundreds of White House files searched

In Trump’s case, hundreds of documents related to his election and January 6 response are in dispute, including activity logs, timetables, speech notes from key advisers to the then president, and three pages of handwritten notes from the then White House chief of staff. Mark Meadows.

If the House gets the records, they could help investigators answer some of the most closely-kept facts of what happened inside the West Wing as Trump’s team discussed rejecting the votes popular in several states in the 2020 election, and as supporters gathered and invaded the United States Capitol on January 6.

The House noted on Thursday that it was looking for documents dating back to April 2020, because that’s when Trump started talking about the possibility of voter fraud corrupting the election. He continued to bring this charge even after last November, when several federal and state authorities determined that there had been no widespread voter fraud in 2020.

“The select committee needs information regarding various people involved in the message during this time to determine when and how the seeds of the January 6 attack on our democracy were planted, which can help Congress examine restorative legislation “, maintains the Chamber in its deposits.

Other documents the House is requesting from the Trump White House closer to Jan.6 relate to people with ties to accused insurgents or the “Stop the Steal” group, or who were working with Congress, security, or visiting the White House near that day, the new filings say.

The National Archives have pointed out that White House files, even around Jan.6, are still destined to become public documents after a president leaves, and some of what Trump is trying to protect has been routinely made public. by other White Houses.

Trump has resoundingly lost his arguments in the lower courts and appellate courts.

Yet while the Archives originally planned to turn the files over to the House committee starting in November, Trump’s legal battle put document productions on ice.

If the judges do not agree to consider the case in January, they might not discuss Trump’s cases until a month later, in mid-February, the House said.

Although the Supreme Court has taken months to consider key separation of powers issues in Trump’s congressional summons challenges in the past, it quickly rejected an attempt by Texas that Trump supported to overturn his electoral defeat there. a year ago.

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