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Biden Rejects Trump Request to Withhold Jan. 6 Records

Former president tells National Archives that executive privilege applies
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2021 5:15 PM CDT
Biden Rejects Trump Request to Withhold Jan. 6 Records
President Biden waits to speak on the North Lawn of the White House in Washington on Friday. His counsel told the National Archives not to keep records of former President Trump from a House committee.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – The White House told the National Archives on Friday that President Biden won't exert executive privilege over documents sought by the panel investigating the Capitol riot, as former President Donald Trump had requested. That leaves the National Archives free to turn over the first batch of Trump files to the House committee, NBC reports, which is trying to determine the former president's actions on Jan. 6. After consulting the Justice Department, White House counsel Dana Remus wrote that "President Biden has determined than an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified as to any of the Documents."

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The issue could go to court. Trump sent his own letter to the National Archives on Friday, saying that certain files the committee wants "contain information subject to executive privilege, including the presidential communications and deliberative process privileges." His letter also says that when there isn't enough time for a complete review of the documents, "there is a longstanding bipartisan tradition" of making "protective assertions of executive privilege," per the Washington Post, with the idea that a final assertion of protection could be made later. A Trump spokesman, Taylor Budowich, issued a statement calling the committee's move an "outrageously broad records request."

This isn't the last request for Trump Jan. 6 files, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said they'll be evaluated individually, per CNN. But Biden considers it "of the utmost importance for both Congress and the American people to have a complete understanding of the events of that day to prevent them from happening again," Psaki said. Past presidents' files are held by the National Archives, but they have to ask the current president if they want any documents to be withheld. Trump could sue the National Archives over the matter, though.

Trump has told former aides subpoenaed by the committee to refuse to provide documents or agree to interviews, promising he'd go to court if needed to successfully claim executive privilege. Former White House strategist Steve Bannon did that Friday, telling the panel he won't comply with his subpoena. The committee gave indications that Mark Meadows, once Trump's chief of staff, and Kash Patel, a national security aide, are negotiating with the panel. Former adviser Dan Scavino was served Friday, per Politico, but no one would say what his situation is. (Read more Capitol attack stories.)

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