Former President Donald Trump has sued the House select committee probing the Jan. 6th Capitol riot after it subpoenaed a number of his top former advisors and demanded White House documents from the National Archives.
Trump is asking a federal court in Washington, D.C. to enjoin the National Archivist from handing over troves of information about the inner workings of the White House as part of its probe into the Jan. 6th riot.
Trump’s suit, filed Monday in US District Court, names as defendants both the committee itself and its chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, as well as archivist David Ferriero.
The filing claims the committee ‘has decided to harass President Trump and senior members of his administration (among others) by sending an illegal, unfounded, and over-broad records request to the Archivist of the United States.’
In slicing language, it blasts the committee’s requests as exceedingly broad, and slams President Biden for agreeing to allow internal White House documents to be handed over.
‘This self-described “sweeping” request is almost limitless in scope and effectively seeks every presidential record and communication that could tenuously relate to events that occurred on January 6, 2021,’ Trump writes.
Former President Donald Trump sued the Archives and the Jan. 6th Committee for a probe he called ‘illegal’ and ‘unfounded’ in a filing
His suit mirrors his posture during previous congressional probes while he was in office and ordered top officials not to participate.
His legal standing now is somewhat different; President Joe Biden and his administration have said they will not assert executive privilege, and in public statements have repeatedly spoken to the importance of the Jan. 6th probe.
Last week saw deadlines for former top aides to testify under subpoena. Trump’s lawyer had told the officials he intended to assert privilege.
Lawmakers are threatening to hold witnesses, including former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, in criminal contempt if they fail to appear or provide documents.
Chair of the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack Bennie Thompson is named in the suit
The committee is set to vote Tuesday on whether to hold former chief White House strategist Steven Bannon in criminal contempt after he refused to comply with a subpoena, citing Trump’s intention to assert privilege
A mob of supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump fight with members of law enforcement at a door they broke open as they storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021
The filing also attacks President Biden, saying he ‘refused’ to exert privilege over document requests – following the panel’s sweeping requests for records related to events at the White House Jan. 6th, as well as in the days leading up to the riot, which took place as Congress met to count the electoral votes that made Biden president.
‘The request also seeks records with no reasonable connection to the events of that day. In a political ploy to accommodate his partisan allies, President Biden has refused to assert executive privilege over numerous clearly privileged documents requested by the Committee,’ according to the filing. ‘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. Our laws do not permit such an impulsive, egregious action against a former President and his close advisors.’
Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower in Manhattan on October 17, 2021 in New York City. The suit came on a day Trump was being deposed in connection with another lawsuit
The committee is seeking information from the archives on the events of Jan. 6th, and has subpoenaed former top officials including former chief of staff Mark Meadows to appear
The filing blasts a request for information on all of Trump’s remarks on Jan. 6th – amid press reports of internal debates as advisors pleaded with him to tell his supporters to go home after the Capitol was breached.
‘Issued public statements are one thing, but the notion that Congress is somehow entitled to ask for and review any and all private conversations, remarks, or drafts of public statements considered by the President of the United States and his close advisors, without limitations on (among other things) subject matter, would destroy the very fabric of our constitutional separation of powers and invade fundamental privileges designed to maintain the autonomy and functioning of the Executive Branch,’ according to Trump’s suit.
The suit seeks to pick apart a series of document requests – including one for schedules and whereabouts of top advisors on Jan. 6th.
The suit was filed by Alexandria, Virginia lawyer Jesse R. Binnall, whose bio says he is an experienced litigator who in his spare time enjoys shark diving.
Likewise, the suit blasts committee requests for information that explore a series of personnel move in the last weeks of the Trump administration – including the installation of Trump loyalists on an ‘acting’ basis.
According to the letter, ‘The Committee also requested information about personnel changes in the Departments of Defense and Justice, the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Homeland Security, despite the fact that any and all members of these departments and agencies serve at the pleasure of the President, and any personnel changes in these Departments are at the sole discretion of the Executive and his designees.’
The brief quotes United States v. Nixon, in a case where President Richard Nixon sought to hold back Watergate tapes, as well as the more recent Trump v. Mazars USA, in a fight over Trump tax returns that went all the way to the Supreme Court.
The suit attacks the Biden Administration’s waiver of executive privilege as a ‘myopic, political maneuver designed to maintain the support of its political rivals and is not based on any discernable legal principle.’
The suit asks that the court ‘invalidate’ the House select committee’s request, and issue an injunction prohibiting the National Archivist from turning over records.
The suit is filled with attacks on the panel itself that do not accept the legitimacy of its probe. It calls it a ‘misguided attempt to intimidate and harass President Trump and his supporters under the guise of investigating the events of January 6, 2021.’