Biden decides it would be inappropriate to assert executive privilege in January 6 investigation

0
41

President Joe Biden generally does not expect to assert executive privilege to shield Trump-era records from being seen by a congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection attempt, the White House said on Friday.

“We take this matter incredibly seriously,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a Friday press briefing. “The President has already concluded that it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege.”

“We will respond promptly to these questions as they arise,” Psaki added. “And certainly as they come up from Congress and certainly we have been working closely with congressional committees and others as they work to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6, an incredibly dark day in our democracy.”

Later, Psaki said Biden was taking an “eye toward not asserting executive privilege,” but that requests would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The White House later attempted to clarify Psaki’s initial comment about exerting executive privilege being inappropriate. They say Psaki was referring to a previous decision by the administration not to assert executive privilege in the committee’s attempt to have former Justice Department officials testify about an attempt to oust then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.

“The Administration believes strongly in the vital role this Committee is playing and will continue to work closely with it moving forward. Jen was referring to the Administration’s previous decision not to assert executive privilege in the matter of certain former DOJ officials who had been called to testify before Congress,” an administration official said. “The Administration will determine any future questions of executive privilege involving documents and testimony on a case-by-case basis, as Jen noted.”

Late last month, Trump threatened to invoke executive privilege in an effort to block the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot from obtaining a massive tranche of documents it’s demanding from several US government agencies, despite his successor having the ultimate say over whether the information can be shared.

The House select committee has launched a sweeping investigation into January 6. As part of that, the panel has sent requests for information from a number of federal agencies, including the National Archives, the custodian of the Trump administration White House records.

The committee asked for “all documents and communications within the White House” on that day, including call logs, schedules and meetings with top officials and outside advisers, including Rudy Giuliani.

The committee issued its first round of subpoenas on Thursday, targeting Trump’s close aides and allies.

Four subpoenas are going to former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, former adviser Steve Bannon and Kash Patel, a former chief of staff to then-acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller who had also served as an aide to Republican Rep. Devin Nunes.

All four of the former Trump staffers were part of the larger records request the committee had sent to government agencies last month.

The White House said on Thursday it was taking steps to release information to the committee about what Trump and his aides were doing on that day, a decision that is likely to set up a legal fight with the former President.

“As President Biden has said, the events of January 6th were a dark stain on our country’s history, and they represented an attack on the foundations of our constitution and democracy in a way that few other events have,” White House spokesman Michael Gwin said in a statement to CNN.

“The President is deeply committed to ensuring that something like that can never happen again and he supports a thorough investigation into what occurred,” Gwin said. “That’s why his Administration has been engaging with Congress on matters relating to January 6 for several months now and will continue to do so, including with the Select Committee.”

This story has been updated with comment from the White House.

[Read More…]