WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is ordering the release of Trump’s White House visitor logs to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riot, once again denying claims by the former President Donald Trump regarding executive privilege.
The committee sought a wealth of data from the National Archives, including presidential records that Trump had fought to keep confidential. Records given to Congress are visitor logs showing the appointment information of those authorized to enter the White House on the day of the insurrection.
In a letter sent to the National Archives on Monday, White House attorney Dana Remus said Biden reviewed Trump’s claim that because he was president at the time of the attack on the U.S. Capitol , the records should remain private, but decided it was “not in the best interests of the United States” to do so.
She also noted that as a policy, the Biden administration “voluntarily discloses these visitor logs on a monthly basis,” as does the Obama administration, and that the majority of entries on which Trump asserted the claim would be returned. public under the current policy.
A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the decision.
The Presidential Records Act states that records created by a sitting president and his staff must be kept in the National Archives, and an incumbent president is responsible for turning the records over to the agency when he leaves office. Trump tried but failed to withhold White House documents from the House committee in a dispute that was decided by the Supreme Court.
Extract from the archives (January 2022): Supreme Court rejects Trump’s bid to block release of January 6 documents to House panel
Also (December 2021): Jan. 6 Select Committee unanimously backs contempt of Congress charge against Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows
Biden has previously made it clear that he does not claim executive privilege over the congressional investigation unless he absolutely has to. Biden waived that privilege for many other information requested by the committee, which reviews the documents and obtains documents and testimony from witnesses, including some uncooperative.
The committee has been focusing on Trump’s actions since Jan. 6, when he waited hours to tell his supporters to stop the violence and leave the Capitol. Investigators are also interested in the organization and financing of a rally in Washington on the morning of the riot, when Trump told his supporters to “fight like hell.” Among the unanswered questions is how well the rally organizers coordinated with White House officials.
Investigators are also looking for communications between the National Archives and Trump aides about 15 boxes of documents the agency recovered from Trump at his Florida compound and trying to find out what they contained.
Meanwhile, the White House call logs obtained so far by the House committee do not list the calls made by Trump as he watched the violence unfold on television on January 6, nor the calls made directly to the president.
This lack of information about Trump’s personal calls is a particular challenge as investigators struggle to discern what happened, what the then-president was doing in the White House as supporters violently beat police, broke into the Capitol and disrupted Democrat Joe Biden’s congressional certification. electoral victory.
There are several possible explanations for the omissions in the records, which do not reflect conversations Trump had on Jan. 6 with several Republican lawmakers, for example. Trump was known to use a personal cell phone or he could have had a phone passed to him by an aide. The committee also continues to receive documents from the National Archives and other sources, which may yield additional information.
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