Biden Blocks Trump’s Request To Shield Some Documents From Jan. 6 Probe

The White House announced Friday that President Joe Biden will not block a House committee looking into the January 6 Capitol Riot from receiving an initial set documents from Trump's administration. This was despite opposition from former President Donald Trump.

Donald Trump addresses supporters at the White House on January 6, 2017, before hundreds of people stormed into the U.S. Capitol. AFP via Getty Images

The Key Facts

Biden decided that invoking executive privilege, which allows the president not to release certain confidential documents, is not necessary for the first round Trump-era documents requested and reviewed by White House staff. Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, stated Friday. In a letter to National Archives and Records Administration, White House Counsel Dana Remus stated that Biden will not use executive privilege because of the extraordinary and unique circumstances surrounding the Capitol riot. This was obtained by Politico and NBC News. This decision applies only to the initial round of documents that were provided to the White House via the National Archives. Psaki did not rule out executive privilege for any future records. According to the Washington Post, Trump claimed that dozens of records requested by the January 6 committee were subject to executive privilege due to their connection to internal White House communications. Forbes reached out to Trump's office for comment but they did not respond immediately.

Important Quote

This will be an ongoing effort, and this is only the first set. We will then evaluate privilege questions on a case by case basis, Psaki stated.

Important Background

The House committee was established earlier this year, despite opposition from Republican leadership. It will investigate the root causes of the January 6th riot in which hundreds of Trump supporters entered the U.S. Capitol building, forcing lawmakers to delay certifying Biden's election win. The committee requested that the National Archives hand over a variety of government records. These included communications from the White House on January 6th, information about Vice President Mike Pences' safety during violence, and documents related to Trump's long-running effort to reverse his election loss. The committee obtained thousands upon thousands of pages from federal agencies last month. Trump demanded that the Biden administration exercise executive privilege to prevent the release of records.

What to Watch

Trump could file a lawsuit in order to prevent or delay the release of documents. According to Bob Bauer, Obama's White House Counsel, any legal challenges will likely be a difficult battle. This is partly because executive privilege decisions are usually left to the current administration.


Biden's decision comes as former Trump advisor Steve Bannon stated that he would not abide by a subpoena issued by the January 6th committee. This was reportedly due to executive privilege. Friday's select committee stated that it will quickly consider referring anyone who refuses to comply with its subpoenas regarding criminal contempt of Congress, but that it is up to the Department of Justice whether to pursue criminal charges.

Continue reading

Jan. 6 Probe Finds Thousands of Pages Of Federal Agency Documents. (Forbes).