Former President Donald Trump filed suit on Monday to block a House select committee investigating January 6 from obtaining records from his administration.
Trump sued the House select committee to investigate January 6, its chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the National Archives, and national archivist David Ferriero. The former president claimed that the committee’s request to the archives for his records — such as the internal communications of his staff — violates executive privilege.
“The Committee’s request amounts to nothing less than a vexatious, illegal fishing expedition openly endorsed by Biden and designed to unconstitutionally investigate President Trump and his administration. Our laws do not permit such an impulsive, egregious action against a former President and his close advisors,” the lawsuit says, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The select committee has asked the archives to turn over detailed records on the actions of Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and other members of the administration taken on January 6. The committee’s request also covered White House records on visitor logs and officials’ social media posts. Finally, the committee asked the archives to turn over all records relating to the former president’s push to delay the certification of the 2020 election.
Trump’s legal team is asking the D.C. district court to make the archives first identify all records covered under the committee’s request, then allow the Trump team to review them before they are given to Congress, according to Politico.
Thompson and committee vice-chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) released a joint statement responding to Trump’s lawsuit.
“The former President’s clear objective is to stop the Select Committee from getting to the facts about January 6th and his lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our probe,” the statement said. “Precedent and law are on our side. Executive privilege is not absolute and President Biden has so far declined to invoke that privilege. Additionally, there’s a long history of the White House accommodating congressional investigative requests when the public interest outweighs other concerns. It’s hard to imagine a more compelling public interest than trying to get answers about an attack on our democracy and an attempt to overturn the results of an election.”
“The Select Committee’s authority to seek these records is clear. We’ll fight the former President’s attempt to obstruct our investigation while we continue to push ahead successfully with our probe on a number of other fronts,” it continued.
It remains unclear if Trump’s claims to executive privilege will be upheld.
On October 8, President Joe Biden declined to invoke executive privilege over the requested documents. White House counsel Dana Remus told Ferriero in a letter to turn over the requested documents to the House select committee.
“The President instructs you, in accord with Section 4(b) of Executive Order 13489, to provide the pages identified as privileged by the former President to the Select Committee. In light of the urgency of the Select Committee’s need for the information, the President further instructs you to provide those pages 30 days after your notification to the former President, absent any intervening court order,” Remus wrote.