Trump Sues House Panel Probing January 6 Events
20:44 GMT 18.10.2021 (Updated: 13:25 GMT 06.08.2022)
Former US President Donald Trump has asserted in a new court filing that the documents sought by a Congressional panel investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol by Trump's supporters are protected by executive privilege.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, targets both the US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol and the National Archives and Records Administration and seeks to block what it calls "an illegal, unfounded, and overbroad records request."
The former president seeks relief in the form of permanent injunctions against both the National Archives for supplying the documents and the House committee for requesting them, as well as "a declaratory judgment that the Committee’s requests are invalid and unenforceable under the Constitution and laws of the United States" or "a declaration that the Presidential Records Act is an unconstitutional violation of separation of powers and is void ab initio." Trump also wants to be reimbursed for the cost of the suit.
The filing dismisses the committee's requests as "almost limitless in scope," noting it seeks "every presidential record and communication that could tenuously relate to events that occurred on January 6, 2021," including "records with no reasonable connection to the events of that day."
"In a political ploy to accommodate his partisan allies, President Biden has refused to assert executive privilege over numerous clearly privileged documents requested by the Committee," the filing continues. "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 committee has made more than 50 requests for documents from more than 30 individuals, including "[a]ll documents and communications relating in any way to remarks made by Donald Trump or any other persons on January 6, including Donald Trump’s and other speakers’ public remarks at the rally on the morning of January 6, and Donald Trump’s Twitter messages throughout the day," and “[f]rom November 3, 2020, through January 20, 2021, all documents and communications related to prepared public remarks and actual public remarks of Donald Trump.”
Many of those subpoenaed by the committee have refused to cooperate, including ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who was held in contempt by the committee last week. The White House said Monday that there was no basis for Bannon's refusal to testify and that Trump's claim that his documents are protected by executive privilege is "not justified."
© REUTERS / SHANNON STAPLETONPolice release tear gas into a crowd of pro-Trump protesters during clashes at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.
Police release tear gas into a crowd of pro-Trump protesters during clashes at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.
Trump has rejected characterization of the events of January 6 as a riot or insurrection and has continued to uphold his claims that led to the event - namely, that he was the rightful winner of the November 3, 2020, election and that US President Joe Biden won via fraud. He has also dismissed the congressional probe, launched by a Democratic-majority House, as a "sideshow to distract America" from the "massive failures" of Biden's administration.
When thousands of Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol building on the afternoon of January 6, they did so immediately after a rousing rally hosted by Trump at the White House and with the intent of blocking congressional certification of the election results. Many also voiced an intent to arrest or even lynch members of Congress or the federal government, such as those who chanted "Hang [Vice President Mike] Pence" and erected a gallows on the western terrace.
Numerous details have emerged since then, showing how Trump struggled to retain the support of even his closest allies and waffled on whether or not to support the insurrection once it breached the legislative building. Senior US military and intelligence officials also took measures to prevent a second attempt in the days that followed, especially as questions about the military's loyalty remained largely open and unanswered, or a possible "Reichstag Fire" incident by ordering a sudden strike on China.
Five people died during the riot, including a Capitol Police officer and a female rioter shot by an officer outside the House chamber. However, they failed in their ultimate aims and were later dispersed by thousands of National Guardsmen who arrived to garrison the capital city. Trump was later impeached on charges of incitement to insurrection, but was acquitted in a trial in the weeks after he left office.