Friday, September 24, 2021

Joe Versus The Orange Volcano

The Biden White House isn't going to cover for Trump on "executive privilege" when it comes to the January 6th insurrection, and frankly I'm shocked that they're not. I honestly figured Biden would bury this in the name of executive power, but here the Biden administration is doing the right thing.

The White House is leaning toward releasing information to Congress about what Donald Trump and his aides were doing during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol despite the former president’s objections — a decision that could have significant political and legal ramifications.

Trump has said he will cite “executive privilege” to block information requests from the House select committee investigating the events of that day, banking on a legal theory that has successfully allowed presidents and their aides to avoid or delay congressional scrutiny for decades, including during the Trump administration.

But President Biden’s White House plans to err on the side of disclosure given the gravity of the events of Jan. 6, according to two people familiar with discussions who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private discussions.

In response to questions about White House deliberations over what information to release, Biden spokesman Michael J. Gwin said the president views the attack on the Capitol as “a dark stain on our country’s history” and is “deeply committed to ensuring that something like that can never happen again, and he supports a thorough investigation.”

Members of the investigative committee argue that Trump no longer enjoys the protection of executive privilege, encouraging the White House to push aside institutional concerns about sharing information with Congress and aid the panel in an investigation focused on what Democrats and a handful of Republicans have called an assault on democracy.

“It’s not really relevant because there’s no president involved — there’s no such thing as a former president’s executive privilege,” said Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), a committee member who teaches constitutional law. “That’s extremely dilute and not really relevant.”

What Trump was doing while the attack was occurring and who he was speaking with are among the big, unanswered questions concerning the assault on the Capitol.

The debate over the validity of his executive privilege claims comes as the committee is moving into a new, more aggressive phase of its investigation. Having requested material from telecom, social media companies and the White House — and receiving some response — it is now looking at how best to compel testimony and documents from those reluctant to participate.

Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said this week that his panel will soon issue subpoenas to witnesses and organizations, adding that the committee has started scheduling closed door testimony with cooperative witnesses. A preliminary list of subpoenas is expected to be released by the committee as soon as Thursday and may include prominent Trump allies and White House officials.

Trump has derided the committee’s work as partisan and is promising to fight its effort to collect information and testimony related to the attack.

“The highly partisan, Communist-style ‘select committee’ has put forth an outrageously broad records request that lacks both legal precedent and legislative merit,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said in a statement. “Executive privilege will be defended, not just on behalf of President Trump and his administration, but also on behalf of the Office of the President of the United States and the future of our nation.”
Trump has been threatening to use "executive privilege" to kill the January 6th Committee's work for months now.  The issue is whether or not Trump can run out the clock until January 2023 and a new Congress, quite possibly with a Republican Speaker who will end the investigation immediately and bury the results for decades.

It's also possible that this Supreme Court will step in and side with Trump completely.
So while Biden is "leaning toward" the right thing, we shouldn't expect to actually find out about anything for a while, even as Jan 6 Committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson has sent out the first subpoenas in the committee's investigation.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has issued subpoenas to two top Trump White House officials, former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, as well as to Kash Patel, who was serving as chief of staff to the acting defense secretary that day. An additional subpoena targets longtime Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon.

The subpoenas were announced Thursday evening by the committee, which has moved its inquiry into a new, more aggressive stage after requesting White House records last month and sending preservation requests for records to telecom and social media companies.

Trump and his team have condemned the select committee’s inquiry since it began, vowing to fight its demands for documents and interviews with claims of executive privilege. A debate about a former president’s ability to restrict access to information and individuals has already begun in Washington — and is likely to become dramatically more intense now that these first subpoenas have been issued.

Along with asking Meadows, Scavino, Patel and Bannon to hand over records, the committee is instructing the four men to appear for depositions in mid-October.

Bannon and Scavino did not respond to requests for comment. Meadows could not be reached. 

The legal battle over this will almost certainly take years, so don't expect any of these scoundrels to comply, or for Democrats to take much action when it comes to putting force behind these subpoenas. Republicans will only return the favor in the future, and Democrats know it.

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