Biden Rejects Trump’s Efforts To Shield White House Visitor Logs

In News

Donald Trump’s efforts to shield his presidential records from a House inquiry into his actions on January 6, 2021, have been rejected. President Joe Biden directs the National Archives to release visitor logs to the House Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol.

In Summary

• Former US President Donald Trump’s assertion of executive privilege regarding White House visitor logs was rejected by US President Joe Biden. The logs are being released to a House committee probing the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

• The National Archives is digging for communication between the Nation Archives and Trump’s advisors over 15 boxes of records.

• Among other things, investigators are looking into the organization and financing of a Washington rally the morning of the riot, during which Trump urged supporters to “fight like hell.”

• The committee is still reviewing records from the National Archives and other sources that may provide additional information about the event. Additionally, it has demanded records from social media platforms and other telcos.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds on January 15, 2022 in Florence, Arizona. [COURTESY]

Biden upholds against Trumps’s request to shield visitor logs from House Committee.

US President Joe Biden has ordered the release of Trump White House visitor logs to a House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol, rejecting former President Donald Trump’s executive privilege assertions once again.

The committee has requested access to a massive stack of data from the National Archives, including presidential records that Trump has battled to keep private. The records being released to Congress include visitor logs listing the names and appointments of persons who entered the White House on the day of the insurrection.

In a letter to the National Archives on Monday, White House counsel Dana Remus stated that Biden weighed Trump’s assertion that the records should remain private since he was president at the time of the Capitol attack but decided against them.

“The President has determined that asserting executive privilege over these records and parts of records is not in the best interests of the United States and so is not justifiable,” Remus wrote.

Remus highlighted that the Biden administration, like the Obama administration, “voluntarily discloses such visitor logs every month” and that the majority of the entries about which Trump stated the assertion would be released to the public under the current policy.

Remus said in the letter that the logs of anyone who visited the White House before Trump’s departure on January 20, 2021, should be sent over expeditiously “given the committee’s urgency” and Congress’ “compelling need.”

A Trump official did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the decision.

The Presidential Records Act requires the National Archives to preserve records created by a current president and staff. In contrast, outgoing presidents are responsible for turning over documents to the institution upon leaving office. Trump previously attempted but failed to hide White House documents from a House committee in a Supreme Court-decided case.

White House Counsel Dana Remus (L) and Deputy Chief of Staff Jennifer O’Malley Dillon [COURTESY]

President Biden declines to invoke executive privilege.

Biden, a Democrat, has already stated that he will not invoke executive privilege in connection with the congressional probe unless and until it is necessary.

Last year, Biden rejected a Trump attempt to bar the US House of Representatives January 6 committee from seeing batches of documents from the previous president’s White House tenure.

The committee examines Trump’s behavior on January 6, when he waited hours to advise his supporters to halt the violence and leave the Capitol. Investigators are looking into the organization and funding of a gathering in Washington the morning of the riot, during which Trump urged supporters to “fight like hell.” Among the inquiries is how closely the rally’s organizers cooperated with White House officials.

House investigators are looking for conversations between the National Archives and Trump’s aides regarding 15 boxes of records the agency confiscated from Trump at his Florida estate and are attempting to ascertain their contents.

On January 6, 2021, violent demonstrators loyal to then-President Donald Trump invaded the US Capitol in Washington, DC, following Trump’s declaration that the 2020 election had been stolen.

Meanwhile, White House phone logs obtained thus far by the House committee do not include conversations made by Trump on January 6 as he watched the carnage develop on television, nor do they have calls made directly to the president.

That lack of clarity regarding Trump’s personal calls presents a particular difficulty for investigators as they attempt to piece together what happened, what the then-president was doing in the White House as supporters attacked police, broke into the Capitol, and disrupted congressional certification of Biden’s election victory.

Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. [COURTESY]

There are various conceivable explanations for record deletions that do not include conversations between Trump and multiple Republican lawmakers on January 6, for example. For example, Trump was known to use a personal cell phone or be given one by an aide. The committee continues to review records from the National Archives and other sources that may yield new information.

According to The New York Times, which first reported the letter, the White House planned to inform Trump’s attorneys of the decision on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the founder of a right-wing militia group charged with seditious conspiracy connected to his alleged participation in organizing the January 6 attack was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, requesting to be released from jail pending trial.

Over 725 people have been charged in connection with the attack, which claimed five people and injured more than 100 police officers. Later that year, four police officers who were defending the Capitol committed suicide.

The committee’s January 6 meeting made public some eighty-odd subpoenas, including those issued to top Trump advisors and allies and interviewed more than 560 witnesses. Additionally, it has demanded records from social media platforms and other telecommunications companies.

It subpoenaed six people on Tuesday who had knowledge of or engaged in failed efforts to send phony “alternative electors” to Washington, DC, as part of Trump’s effort to reverse the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

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