White House, January 6 committee agrees to protect certain documents

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The House committee investigating the January 6 insurgency on Capitol Hill has agreed to postpone its attempt to obtain hundreds of pages of documents from the Trump administration, delaying at the request of the White House Biden .

The postponement is a response to concerns from the Biden administration that the release of all Trump administration documents sought by the committee could compromise national security and executive privilege.

President Joe Biden has repeatedly rejected general efforts by former President Donald Trump to invoke executive privilege to block the release of documents surrounding the day. But Biden’s White House is still working with the committee to prevent certain documents from being handed over.

Trump is appealing to the Supreme Court to try to prevent the National Archives and Records Administration, which has kept custody of the documents since his tenure, from turning them over to the committee.

The agreement to keep certain Trump-era files away from the committee is commemorated in a December 16 letter from the White House legal counsel’s office. It primarily protects recordings that do not involve the events of January 6, but which were covered by the committee’s extensive request for documents at Trump’s White House on the events of that day.

Dozens of pages created on January 6 do not concern the assault on the Capitol. Other documents relate to sensitive preparations and deliberations of the National Security Council. Biden officials feared that if these pages were handed over to Congress, it would set an awkward precedent for the executive branch, regardless of the president.

Still other documents are highly classified, and the White House has asked Congress to work with the federal agencies that created them to discuss their release.

“The documents for which the select committee agreed to withdraw or defer its request do not appear to relate to the White House’s preparations or response to the events of January 6, nor to efforts to overturn the elections or obstruct the peaceful transfer of power, ”White House deputy legal adviser Jonathan Su wrote in one of two letters to the committee obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Su wrote that for the committee, the withholding of the documents “should not compromise its ability to quickly complete its critical investigation.”

In recent months, the National Archives have forwarded slices of documents to the White House and Trump attorneys to determine if they contain inside information. Trump raised both broad objections to the release of the documents as well as specific concerns about particular documents.

The National Archives said the files Trump wants to block include presidential newspapers, visitor logs, drafts of speeches, handwritten notes “relating to the events of January 6” from the files of former chief of staff Mark Meadows , and “a draft decree on the subject of electoral integrity.

Biden has repeatedly dismissed Trump’s claims of executive privilege over those documents, including in a letter sent on December 23 regarding approximately 20 pages of documents.

“The President has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interest of the United States and therefore is not warranted,” White House attorney Dana Remus reiterated in the final letter.

Trump has taken the courts to block the publication of documents. A federal appeals court this month ruled against Trump, and he has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, although the High Court has yet to decide whether to hear the case.

Judge Patricia Millett, writing for the court in the December 9 opinion, said Congress had a “unique vital interest” in studying the events of January 6 and Biden had made a “carefully reasoned” decision that the documents were in the public interest. and therefore this executive privilege should not be invoked. Trump also did not show any harm that would result from the release of the wanted tapes, Millett wrote.

“In the case before us, former President Trump provided no basis for this tribunal to overturn President Biden’s judgment and the agreement and accommodations reached between the political branches on these documents,” said the opinion.

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