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House Lawyers and DOJ Argue That Trump Should Give WH Documents to Jan 6th Committee

House Lawyers and DOJ Argue That Trump Should Give WH Documents to Jan 6th Committee

The Biden administration said in a court filing on Monday that the House Select Committee’s investigation into the January 6th Capitol attack is needed to fully understand Donald Trump’s role in the riot that ensued after he spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally.

Arguing that Trump’s official White House records be turned over to Congress, lawyers from the Justice Department representing the Biden administration–including the National Archives, which holds the Trump-era records — said that the House has “sufficient reason” to try to learn what Trump and others knew before the violence. The filing came as Trump is still trying to overturn a lower-court decision and keep the records secret.

WASHINGTON D.C., USA – JANUARY 6: US President Donald Trump speaks at “Save America March” rally in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

It’s uncommon for Congress and the executive branch to be so aligned in a court case over presidential powers, but the Biden administration has taken up many of the same arguments the House is making about why it needs to investigate. Previously, the Biden administration said it would not assert executive privilege to protect Trump-era residential records because of the “unique and extraordinary” nature of the Capitol siege.

The argument in the legal brief is some of the strongest language yet from the Biden administration endorsing the House probe into Trump.
“The Select Committee thus has sufficient reason to probe, among other things: (1) what, if anything, the former President, his advisors, other government officials, and those close to him knew about the likelihood of the protest turning violent; (2) when they knew it; (3) whether they sought to encourage or prevent it and the actions they took in response; and (4) how, if at all, their actions facilitated, exacerbated or led to the violence that overtook the protest,” lawyers from the Biden administration wrote.

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Also in a Monday court filing, lawyers for the House said they need to investigate Trump’s private papers as they seek to consider legislation aimed at protecting future elections. The House wants the records soon, and the lawyers argued against letting the court process drag out.
“Future elections are imminent and there could be future attacks on democracy rooted in conduct occurring well before the election,” the lawyers wrote. “The Select Committee’s task to study and suggest legislation to ensure that January 6 is not repeated, and that our Nation’s democracy is protected from future attacks, is urgent.”

To counter Trump’s claims that his public statements are already available, and so records of White House discussions aren’t needed, the House invoked Shakespeare. “Any inquiry that did not insist on examining Mr. Trump’s documents and communications would be worse than useless—the equivalent of staging a production of Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark,” their filing said.

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