Biden Can't Thwart Work of 6 January Committee, But It's in His Interests, US Media Claims
15:13 GMT 26.10.2021 (Updated: 15:49 GMT 26.10.2021)
The House committee already held former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt because he refused to turn up for a hearing for which he'd been subpoenaed. Now, it is about to get hold of the records of his communications with his former boss – all in the hope of finding anything to accuse Trump of being responsible for the 6 January riots.
US President Joe Biden has once again refused to exercise his right of executive privilege to block the Democratic-led 6 January House committee from getting access to the records of his predecessor Donald Trump's personal communications with his aides. The former president himself tried to prevent the National Archives from handing over the records, but this right is available for whoever is POTUS at the time.
Although this hardly comes as a surprise - since Biden has "little incentive" to thwart the work of the committee led by fellow Democrats - it might not be in everyone's interests, according to a CNN op-ed by Stephen Collinson. The author pointed out that handing over the documents purportedly relating to events on 6 January (already the second batch in a row) will fuel Biden's feud with Trump, "paradoxically" giving the former president the "kind of oxygen he craves for his politics".
"Trump and his allies have branded Biden's refusal to cooperate with his political power grabs as evidence of a political vendetta against the ex-president".
This, in turn, will only further divide the country and perpetuate the "legacy of the Trump presidency", Collinson argues. In the end, this standoff might power "Trump's potential political comeback" with a possible 2024 rematch against Biden.
Furthermore, adding to the trawl of papers being examined by the 6 January investigators will only give Trump a reason to file even more lawsuits to block the action. Arguments over the right to executive privilege typically last years - if not decades - in courts, the practice shows. By the time they're resolved, the GOP might flip the House and abolish the committee it branded as aimed at hurting Trump, who remains an influential person in the Republican Party.
18 October 2021, 22:10 GMT
Giving a predecessor and a political opponent a clean bill of health is not unprecedented among US presidents – President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon even with the Watergate scandal fresh in everyone's mind. However, by taking a similar step with Trump, for example by exercising executive privilege, Biden risks undermining his electoral claim of being the "saviour" of American democracy, CNN's Collinson claims.
That is not to say of the Democrats themselves, who, ever since a mob of protesters stormed the Capitol building, have been trying to blame Trump for the incident, insisting that his claims of voter fraud incited the so-called insurrection. Trump himself denies his involvement, adding that he was among the first to condemn the actions of the mob, who were dissatisfied with the election results. The Democrats controlling the House impeached the then president on the grounds of these claims, but Trump managed to avoid conviction during the trial in the GOP-dominated Senate.