Trump Sues Jan 6th Committee to Keep Records Under Wraps

WASHINGTON, OCT 18TH– Former President  Donald Trump has sued the Jan 6th US. House Committee in a bid to prevent information from reaching the Select Committee. Both, the National Archives and the Committee have been termed as defendants under the lawsuit. This legal move was initiated after President Biden approved of releasing all documents under a request made by the Committee to the National Archives earlier this year.

The lawsuit, filed to the Federal District Court in Columbia by Jesse Binnall, claimed that the request made by the committee is “illegal, unfounded and overbroad”. Being based on three “Pillars”, it points out that the committee is not an investigative body and as such, can not seek any information that is not required for legislative purposes.

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As Trump had officially invoked the Executive Privilege on this matter, the lawsuit argues that this request can not be entertained by the National Archives. Moreover, the committee’s request is claimed to be overly broad and that it may encompass other sensitive correspondence of Trump, his Vice-President, and more than two dozen senior Government officials within the period of Nov 3rd, 2020  to Jan 20th, 2021. The lawsuit, therefore, alleges that the committee is in “no way entitled” to such records.

The Rebuttal

The Committee Chair, Bennie Thompson (Democrat, Mississippi) and Representative Liz Cheney (Republican, Wyoming) declared the lawsuit to be a delaying tactic on the part of former President Trump. In a statement on Monday evening, both stressed that Trump’s objective was to “stop the Select committee from obtaining the facts on Jan 6th, and the lawsuit an attempt to delay and obstruct the probe”. They further claimed that the precedent and the law favor them. 

History of the Jan 6th Committee

Senate Speaker Nancy Pelosi had established this committee on July 1st, 2021 to bring out the truth behind the insurrection that occurred on the 6th of January. After a provocative speech made by then-President Trump regarding electoral results, supporters had rallied and then stormed onto the Capitol in Washington. Over 600 people were arrested under different charges such as the destruction of public property.  Trump was impeached for the second time but was later acquitted by the Senate.

Trump Sues Jan 6th Committee
Trump Sues Jan 6th Committee

Despite initial attempts to make this committee bipartisan, it comprises nine House Representatives, seven of which belong to the Democrats and only two Republicans- Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Both of the Republicans had voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment.

The Subpoenas

The Committee had also ordered some of the senior officials of the state to come forward in testimony as to the happenings behind the insurrection. It subpoenaed Trump’s senior advisor Steve Bannon, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, communications director Dan Scavino, Pentagon chief of staff Kashyap Patel, and the organizers of the Stop the Steal rally. 

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Some of these officials are negotiating with the committee however, Steve Bannon refused to appear before the committee on the grounds of Executive Privilege. Therefore, on Tuesday, the entire committee unanimously voted in favor of holding Bannon under criminal contempt. Now the case of contempt will be transferred to the House. 

Expert Opinion

According to the experts, the lawsuit is nothing more than a legal tool to stall the committee’s progress. In the words of Laurence H. Tribe, a Harvard law professor, it is “a very weak complaint” and “The idea that Congress has no legitimate purpose in making this request is almost insane. No purpose could be higher on the totem pole than protecting the Republic from a coup.” 

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