Washington – The Biden administration on Friday blocked a request by former President Donald Trump to withhold certain documents from Congress related to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, setting off a legal showdown between current and former presidents over executive privilege.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that President Joe Biden’s claim of executive privilege “is not necessary” for the first set of Trump White House documents. He said it was an “ongoing process”.
“We will evaluate questions of privilege on a case by case basis,” Saki said.
A House committee is investigating the roles of Trump and his aides in the riots, when a large crowd of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol as Congress was attesting to the results of the presidential election that Biden had won. The committee is increasingly issuing summons to individuals who are either associated with Trump or who helped plan the massive rally on the morning of January 6, at which he told his supporters to “fight like hell”. .
FILE – Former US President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on September 25, 2021 in Perry, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
A lawyer for former White House aide Steve Bannon has said he will not follow up with a House committee investigation because Trump is claiming executive privilege to withhold demands for testimony and documents.
Two witnesses summoned by the panel, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Pentagon aide Kash Patel, are “engaged” with the committee, according to committee Democratic chairman Mississippi Rep. Benny Thompson and Republican vice chairman Rep. Liz. Cheney of Wyoming.
Thompson and Cheney issued a statement Friday after the document submission deadline had passed.
“While the Select Committee welcomes goodwill engagement with witnesses wishing to cooperate with our investigation, we will not allow any witness to disobey a valid subpoena or attempt to run the clock, and we will speed up Congressional referrals.” Will consider pursuing criminal contempt of court,” the two MPs said.
Bannon’s refusal to comply, and a resolution to prosecute Trump’s testimony, would mean some delay in the panel’s investigation. But committee members, many of whom served as prosecutors on Trump’s two impeachments, were up to the possibility and repeatedly threatened to accuse witnesses of contempt.
Trump often successfully contested the testimony of witnesses during his presidency, but now he may find his legal position weakened by being out of office.
A committee effort to charge witnesses with contempt would include a full House vote and a referral to the Justice Department. Then it will be up to the justice how to proceed with the charges.
Bannon’s attorney, Robert Costello, said in a letter to the panel on October 7 that until the privilege issues are resolved, “we are unable to respond to your requests for documents and testimony.”
Costello wrote that Bannon, a former Trump aide who had contact with him in the week of the Capitol attack, is ready to “follow the directions of the courts” as they rule on the issue.
The letter includes excerpts from a separate letter sent to Bannon by Trump’s lawyer, Justin Clark. Clark says documents and testimony provided to the January 6 panel may include information that is “potentially protected from disclosure by executive and other privileges, including other presidential communications, deliberative processes and attorney- Includes client privileges.”
Clarke wrote to Bannon that “President Trump stands ready to defend these fundamental privileges in court.”
Trump spokesmen did not return messages seeking comment. Trump said in a statement last month that he would “fight subpoenas on executive privilege and other grounds for the good of our country.”