Trump sues to block Congress from obtaining documents related to Capitol riot

Former US President Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit against the National Archives and a House special committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot in a bid to block Congress from obtaining certain documents related to the insurrection.

“The Committee’s request amounts to nothing less than a vexatious, illegal fishing expedition openly endorsed by Biden and designed to unconstitutionally investigate President Trump and his administration,” the lawsuit, filed on Monday, read.

“Our laws do not permit such an impulsive, egregious action against a former President and his close advisors.”

In August, the committee had requested that the National Archives, which is the custodian of the Trump White House’s records, submit a long list of records from the former President’s time in office and the aftermath of the Capitol riot, reports Xinhua news agency.

The request is part of the panel’s ongoing and intensifying investigation into how a mob of Trump’s supporters breached the Capitol on January 6 trying to stop a Congressional joint session from certifying the 2020 presidential election result.

Trump has said he would assert executive privilege to shield the documents requested by the committee, but Biden, who legal experts said has the ultimate say over whether the information sought by the panel is covered by the executive privilege, determined that Trump’s effort to conceal the documents was neither in the best interest of the US nor justified.

In an October 8 letter to Archivist of the US David Ferriero, White House Counsel Dana Remus demanded that he turn over a subset of the required documents that Trump identified as privileged to Congress.

Remus added that those documents should be submitted 30 days after Ferriero notified the former president.

Trump, however, claimed in the lawsuit filed in the DC District Court that Biden has an interest in preserving his executive privilege, saying it amounted to “a political ploy to accommodate his partisan allies”.

“As it relates to any materials being sought in situations like this, where fundamental privileges and constitutional issues are at stake and where a committee has declined to grant sufficient time to conduct a full review, there is a longstanding bipartisan tradition of protective assertions of executive privilege designed to ensure the ability to make a final assertion, if necessary, over some or all of the requested material,” the lawsuit read.

In addition to seeking documents from the Trump White House, the special committee also sent subpoenas to and asked depositions from several former senior officials in the Trump administration, including Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist who defied the subpoena and did not show up at the scheduled hearing last week.

Bannon’s no-show infuriated the Democrat-led panel, prompting it to set up a vote Tuesday to recommend criminal contempt charges against him.

In what could potentially be another blow to the former President, Democrat Bennie Thompson, who chairs the special committee, did not rule out subpoenaing Trump.