White House formally rejects Trump effort to hide documents related to Capitol riot from subpoena

·3 min read

The White House has formally rejected Donald Trump’s request to assert his executive privilege to shield a set of documents from the House committee investigating the 6 January Capitol riot.

In a letter sent to the National Archives last Friday but released on Wednesday, the White House counsel’s office said president Joe Biden was “instructing” the agency to comply with the House select committee’s request.

The letter, sent by White House counsel Dana Remus to the US national archivist David Ferriero, stated that the documents should be provided “30 days after your notification to the former president, absent any intervening court order”.

“The president maintains his conclusion that 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 provided to the White House on 8 September 2021,” the letter read.

“President Biden does not uphold the former president’s assertion of privilege,” the letter said.

In a statement last week, Mr Trump said the requests to release the documents “are not based in law or reality and is just a game to these politicians. They don’t care about our country or the American people”.

He then wrote to the National Archives, objecting to the release of the documents asserting his “executive privilege”.

This new move by the White House is seen as a bid to step up the investigation into the riot.

The House Committee is prepared to recommend the Justice Department consider prosecuting Mr Trump’s former aides if they ignore or refuse to comply with congressional subpoenas.

Democrat representative Adam Schiff, who also chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said that they were “prepared” to take the step of recommending criminal prosecution of members of Mr Trump’s inner circle who did not appear to testify and submit material.

“We also want to make sure that these witnesses come in and testify, and we are prepared to go forward and urge the Justice Department to criminally prosecute anyone who does not do their lawful duty,” said Mr Schiff.

Former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen reportedly testified before the committee on Wednesday, just days after Mr Schiff’s comments.

The investigating panel had released a statement last week noting that the former president’s two aides – former chief of staff Mark Meadows and House staff Kash Patel – were far from complying with the committee’s requests.

The investigating panel’s chair Bennie Thompson and vice chair Liz Cheney said the committee “will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and... will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral.”

The committee, meanwhile, issued a subpoena to Jeffrey Clark, the former Trump administration Justice Department official who reportedly pushed for the country’s federal law enforcement apparatus to help Mr Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election.

White House secretary Jen Psaki said last Friday that Mr Biden wanted to ensure that an incident like the Capitol riot “never happens again which is why the administration is cooperating with the ongoing investigation”.