House January 6 Committee Advances Contempt Of Congress Charge Against Former Trump DOJ Official

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  • Topline

    Former President Donald Trump on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to bar the Biden Administration from handing over a trove of documents to a House panel investigating the Capitol riot, after two lower courts declined to stop the committee—which has drawn Trump’s ire in recent months—from receiving records from his administration.

    Then-President Donald Trump arrives at the "Stop The Steal" Rally on January 6 in Washington, D.C.

    Getty Images

    Key Facts

    In two filings, Trump’s attorneys asked the high court to review whether the House committee’s request for Trump-era White House records was constitutional, and to prevent the documents from being released while the case makes its way through court.

    Trump argued many of the records requested by lawmakers are protected by “executive privilege,” a legal doctrine that allows presidents to keep some communications confidential.

    He also said the committee’s request for documents violates federal law because it lacks a “valid legislative purpose,” and accused the committee of acting with political motives.

    Crucial Quote

    “Congress may not rifle through the confidential presidential papers of a former President to meet political objectives or advance a case study.,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.

    Key Background

    The January 6 select committee—composed of seven Democrats and two Republicans—has requested scores of White House records, including visitor logs on the day of the riot, phone records and documents tied to Trump’s unsubstantiated voter fraud allegations. Trump asked the National Archives and Records Administration not to release some of the records, claiming they were covered by executive privilege, but President Joe Biden rejected this argument and declined to protect the documents, prompting Trump to file a lawsuit in October accusing the committee of leading a politically motivated “fishing expedition.” A federal district court judge ruled against Trump last month, and an appeals court upheld that ruling two weeks ago, arguing decisions about executive privilege are generally left to the current president, not a former one.

    Tangent

    The select committee has also ordered dozens of former Trump Administration staffers and outside allies to hand over documents and sit for testimony, but some officials have declined to participate, citing Trump’s executive privilege claim. Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon refused the committee’s subpoena, leading the Department of Justice to charge him with contempt of Congress last month, and the committee has recommended criminal contempt charges for former chief of staff Mark Meadows and DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, both of whom said they can’t answer questions due to executive privilege.

    Surprising Fact

    Trump’s case at the Supreme Court could draw from the struggles of another former president. Just weeks before President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974, he tried to cite executive privilege to stop a special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal from subpoenaing a set of White House tapes, but the Supreme Court ruled against him and said the president’s executive privilege power isn’t absolute. Shortly after resigning, Nixon sued to stop the General Services Administration from taking custody of his records, but the Supreme Court ruled against him again, concluding that former presidents can assert executive privilege in some cases but their power to do so is limited.

    Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/joewalsh/2021/12/23/trump-asks-supreme-court-to-block-congress-from-reviewing-jan-6-documents/

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