Updated Sep 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden unlikely to shield Trump White House records from Capitol riots probe

Photo of Joe Biden on the left and Donald Trump on the right
Photos: Anna Moneymaker and Brandon Bell via Getty Images

President Biden is unlikely to invoke executive privilege to shield any Trump White House records from the House investigation of the Capitol insurrection, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

Why it matters: Though Psaki said they would evaluate on a case-by-case basis, it puts a dent in former President Trump's plan to block requests for Jan. 6 information by claiming executive privilege, a legal theory that can allow presidents and their aides to sidestep congressional scrutiny, per the Washington Post.

What she's saying: "I would say that we take this matter incredibly seriously. The president already concluded that it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege," Psaki said.

  • "And so, we will respond promptly to these questions as they arise. And certainly, as they come up from Congress, and certainly we have been working closely with congressional committees and others as they work to get to the bottom of what happened on Jan. 6."
  • The Trump administration has not reached out to the White House about protecting such records, Psaki added. The two presidents and their teams do not maintain regular communication.

A White House spokesperson clarified Friday evening that "Jen was referring to the Administration’s previous decision not to assert executive privilege in the matter of certain former DOJ officials who had been called to testify before Congress."

  • The administration will make no blanket decisions on executive privilege, but "believes strongly in the vital role this Committee is playing and will continue to work closely with it moving forward."

The big picture: The House committee charged with the investigation delivered a letter to the National Archives on Aug. 25, requesting any insurrection-related White House documents and communications from Jan. 6.

  • Once the National Archives has identified and delivered relevant documents to Biden and Trump lawyers, as demanded by statute, Trump will have 30 days to approve or deny their release.

Yes, but: Biden can still hand them to the committee even if Trump objects.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that the White House will make decisions about invoking executive privilege on a case-by-case basis.

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