President Joe Biden formally rejected calls by former President Donald Trump to assert executive privilege. Trump wanted to keep confidential a set of documents requested by a House committee. This panel is presently investigating why the January 6 Capitol riots happened.
White House Will Not Assert Executive Privilege
However, the Biden White House ignored the former President’s request. Instead, it directed the National Archives that it would not assert executive privilege. This covers a tranche of documents from the Trump White House last January 6, 2021.
Last week, the White House said Biden won’t assert executive privilege. It released the letter yesterday to comply with a technicality.
White House counsel Dana Remus wrote to Archivist David Ferriero informing him of Biden’s decision. He also requested that the documents in question be released within 30 days.
‘Not In the Best Interests of The United States’
Trump wrote to the National Archives, objecting to the release of certain documents to the committee. He invoked executive privilege to keep the documents sealed.
However, Remus wrote that Biden considered Trump's assertion. He also got the advice of the Department of Justice. He said that Biden maintains that “executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States”. As a result, “President Biden does not uphold the former President's assertion of privilege.”
Meanwhile, legal experts agreed that Biden holds the final say in the matter. In addition, Biden's own party members control the House select committee. For this reason, they want to proceed with examining the documents.
January 6 Investigation
The US House of Representatives led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) created a select committee tasked to investigate the January 6 capitol riots.
During the course of their investigation, the committee sent requests for information to a number of federal agencies. This includes the National Archives, which holds the White House records of its former occupant, Donald Trump.
The committee asked for “all documents and communications within the White House” on that day. This included all call logs, schedules, and meetings with top officials. It also included the communication between the President and external advisers such as his private counsel Rudy Giuliani.
Trumps Wants Executive Privilege On His Records
Despite his stated objectives, the former President is not his usual gregarious self in trying to object to the release of his records during that January 6.
In fact, his public statements suggest that he does not have the authority to override Biden’s decision on releasing White House records.
Trump does retain his right to executive privilege by filing suit against a number of agencies. However, this will entail another pricey and protracted legal battle that can take his attention.
At the least, a lawsuit can slow down or delay any action regarding the release of documents.
According to Deborah Pearlstein, a constitutional law professor at Cardozo Law School, Trump doesn't have much time to contest the documents’ release.
“If the sitting President has said he's not going to assert the privilege, then there's a certain amount of time (before) the documents then have to be released unless the former President succeeds in getting a court order, an injunction, for example, prohibiting their release,” Pearlstein said.
“That would require a pretty significant ruling by a federal court. It's not impossible but all of this is now under a ticking clock,” she added, noting we could see activity “if the former President and his team are aggressive legally, sooner rather than later,” she added.
Watch the NBC News reporting that President Joe Biden declines Trump request to withhold White House records from the January 6 Committee:
Do you think President Trump should fight for executive privilege and keep the Jan 6 White House documents sealed? Or by all means, should he drop his objections and let the chips fall as they may?
Tell us what you think about exercising executive privilege. Share your comments below.