Donald Trump has been trying very hard to keep congressional investigators from learning what he and his inner circle were doing on and around Jan. 6., the day of the deadly insurrection he incited. The drumroll leading up to what, exactly, he is fighting to hide—and how much more there is against him—intensified on Saturday, as a federal court filing revealed more details about the documents Trump seeks to conceal from the Jan. 6 investigative committee. The materials include logs of the former president’s phone calls, daily presidential diaries, and speech drafts related to the election, according to the filing. They also encompass records from top aides such as Mark Meadows and Stephen Miller and “logs showing phone calls to the president and to Vice President Mike Pence concerning Jan. 6,” according to the New York Times. Trump also doesn’t want to divulge hundreds of pages from “multiple binders of the former press secretary [Kayleigh McEnany], which is made up almost entirely of talking points and statements related to the 2020 election,” the filing states. So far, Trump has asserted executive privilege over more than 750 pages of documents. The new filing sheds light on the wide-ranging nature of the records and just how many of them Trump is seeking to suppress.
Last month, the Washington Post reported that the National Archives had “already identified hundreds of pages of documents from the Trump White House” in response to the House panel’s information request, which asked for “all documents and communications within the White House on January 6, 2021, relating in any way” to the events of that day. Trump sued Congress and the National Archives earlier this month in an attempt to block the disclosure of the files. Saturday’s filing revealed for the first time which specific records Trump is attempting to withhold using claims of executive privilege, a Hail Mary that President Joe Biden has already said is not in the public interest. “This is the first time a sitting president has opposed a privilege assertion lodged by a former president,” Politico reports.
The National Archives, which the Times notes is “the custodian of White House papers” from Trump’s time in office, concurred with Biden’s decision in its filing. The president’s “determination not to assert or uphold executive privilege here is manifestly reasonable in the face of a congressional investigation into the extraordinary events of January 6,” the filing states.
Trump has argued that the committee is “fishing” for information intended to “embarrass” him and that “even if there were potential legislative decisions to be made, the Committee could obtain any and all of the information it seeks relevant to those decisions from other, non-privileged sources.” The Jan. 6 committee’s own filing in response to Trump’s lawsuit—delivered to a U.S. district judge on Friday night—decried that suggestion as “absurd,” noting “any inquiry that did not insist on examining Mr. Trump’s documents and communications would be worse than useless—the equivalent of staging a production of ‘Hamlet’ without the Prince of Denmark.”
Meanwhile, as Trump attempts to keep investigators from seeing what he was up to, the Post has some insight into what was going through his legal team’s head at the time of the attack. “The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary,” Trump attorney John Eastman wrote in an email to Pence aide Greg Jacob as rioters were storming the Capitol complex and calling for Pence’s execution, per the Post. At the time of the email, Jacob was in hiding along with Pence, whose boss, Trump, had convinced his supporters that his No.2 had the power to stop the certification of Biden’s win. The vice president, in his largely ceremonial role during that day’s joint session, did not.
Pence, however, has seemingly decided not to hold almost getting killed against Trump. Since narrowly escaping being hunted and executed by the pro-Trump mob, the former vice president has repeatedly echoed Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was rife with widespread fraud and, most recently, opined that the media should stop being so focused on the unprecedented assault on democracy.
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