October 19, 2021 | 8:00am
Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on October 09, 2021 in Des Moines, Iowa. This is Trump’s first rally in Iowa since the 2020 election.
Scott Olson / Getty Images / AFP
WASHINGTON, United States — Donald Trump is suing to block the release of White House records related to the January 6 insurrection that he was impeached for inciting, according to court documents released Monday.
The former president is claiming “executive privilege” to stop former aides giving evidence to Congress, in an escalation of his efforts to stonewall investigators looking into the deadly Capitol assault.
The challenge will likely touch off an extended high-stakes showdown in the courts that will test the constitutional authority of Congress to scrutinize the executive branch.
Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol nine months ago in an effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory.
They had been egged on by Trump, whose fiery speech earlier that day falsely claiming election fraud was the culmination of months of baseless claims about a contest he lost fairly to Biden.
“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,” says the lawsuit filed in Washington’s district court.
Congressional investigators are seeking testimony from officials who could speak to what Trump, who is considering running for a second term in 2024, knew about the attack beforehand, and what he did while it was ongoing.
Since late August, the National Archives has been sending Biden and Trump voluminous records requested by investigators, giving them 30 days to review materials.
The Supreme Court has ruled that presidents can keep certain documents and discussions confidential to promote more candid discourse with aides, and Trump is far from the first to take advantage of this carve-out.
No court has ruled on whether the privilege extends to former presidents, however. For now, Biden has the final say, and has already permitted a first batch of documents to be released over Trump’s objections.
The lawsuit calls for a federal judge to declare any request from the committee to be invalid and to block the National Archives from turning over any materials.
Even though defeat seems likely, the lawsuit could delay the releases for months or years, threatening to push back a report on the attack closer to the 2022 midterm elections — inviting accusations of bias from Trumpworld.
The former president has already demanded that top aides — from his final chief of staff Mark Meadows to political strategist Steve Bannon — defy subpoenas to appear before the select committee.
“We will fight the subpoenas on executive privilege and other grounds for the good of our country,” Trump said after the select committee announced the subpoenas.
A comfortable majority of 57 senators — including seven from his own party — voted to convict Trump after he was impeached by the House for inciting the January 6 riot, although this fell short of the two-thirds majority required under Senate rules to unseat a president.
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 13, 2021 – 11:37am
Donald Trump, now former US president, has been impeached a second time.
February 13, 2021 – 11:37am
The US Senate is expected to deliver a verdict in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial this weekend after his lawyers argued that the former president bears no responsibility for an attack by supporters on Congress after he failed to win reelection.
Defense lawyers wrapped up their presentation in just three hours, accusing Democrats of persecuting Trump.
This followed two days of evidence from Democratic impeachment managers, centered around harrowing video footage of the mob assault against the Capitol on January 6. — AFP
February 10, 2021 – 7:35am
The US Senate votes to proceed with the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump, rejecting defense arguments that it was unconstitutional.
Defense lawyers had argued that Trump should not face a trial in the Senate for inciting insurrection because he was no longer president.
But the Senate voted 56-44 to proceed with the trial, with six Republicans joining Democratic lawmakers. — AFP
February 10, 2021 – 7:34am
The Senate impeachment trial of former US president Donald Trump will “tear this country apart,” one of his defense lawyers says Tuesday.
“This trial will tear this country apart,” David Schoen says on the opening day of Trump’s trial for inciting the January 6 storming of the US Capitol by his supporters.
Schoen says the trial will leave the United States “far more divided and our standing around the world will be badly broken.” — AFP
February 1, 2021 – 8:53am
Former US president Donald Trump announced Sunday that he had hired two new lawyers to head his defense team for his historic second impeachment trial.
Trump’s announcement came the day after US media reported that several of his impeachment lawyers had left his team, a little more than a week shy of his trial before the US Senate.
Trump said in a statement that “highly respected trial lawyers” David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor, Jr would lead his legal efforts.
Castor has focused on criminal law throughout his career, while Schoen specializes in “civil rights litigation in Alabama and federal criminal defense work, including white collar and other complex cases, in New York.”
Trump, who left office January 20, faces trial on a charge that he incited the mob that stormed the US Capitol building in an effort to block his election loss to President Joe Biden. — AFP
January 23, 2021 – 10:20am
Donald Trump’s US Senate trial will begin in the second week of February, days after a fresh impeachment case against the former president is transmitted by the House, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says.
The newly announced schedule reflects a deal struck by Senate leaders to delay the substantive portion of the trial for two weeks so that the chamber may conduct other critical business including confirmation of President Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees.
The House of Representatives impeached Trump for a historic second time on January 13, just one week before he left office. — AFP