Sunday, December 4, 2022

Biden Orders Release Of Trump’s White House Visitor Logs To Jan. 6 Committee

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President Joe Biden rejected former President Donald Trump’s claims of executive privilege again and ordered the National Archives to release White House visitor logs to the House Select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on January 6, according to a letter obtained by multiple news outlets.

President Joe Biden speaks about Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 15, … [+] 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


Key Facts

In a letter to the Archives, White House Counsel Dana Remus wrote that Biden decided an assertion of executive privilege for the visitor logs, including entries from January 6, 2021, is not justified and is “not in the best interests of the United States.”

Remus wrote White House visitor logs are made available to the public on a monthly basis, and that the Obama administration held the same practice.

The records should be released within 15 days, “in light of the urgency” of the January 6 committee’s work, according to Remus’ letter, which was first reported by the New York Times.

David S. Ferriero, archivist of the United States, wrote in a letter to Trump that the National Archives would turn over the records to the committee on March 3, unless prohibited by a court order.

Trump’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.

Key Background
Trump has previously asserted executive privilege as an argument to shield hundreds of documents from the committee, a legal doctrine that allows the president to withhold certain, often confidential, information from the public. Lawyers for Trump have previously argued the committee has no legislative reason to “rifle through the confidential, presidential papers of a former president to meet political objectives or advance a case study.” A federal appeals court ruled in the case that Biden’s decision to release the records, and Congress’ stated need for the documents, outweighed Trump’s concerns, which the Supreme Court also agreed.

What To Watch For
If Trump sues to block the release of the records again. Trump filed a lawsuit to prevent an initial trove of documents from reaching the January 6 committee in October, beginning a lengthy legal battle that ended with the Supreme Court rejecting Trump’s request to block the Archives from receiving the documents in January. The Archives released some of the records to the committee last month—some of which had been torn up and taped back together.

What We Don’t Know
It’s unclear how detailed the visitor logs were under the Trump administration, and what the logs may reveal to the committee.

Further Reading
Biden Rejects Trump’s Claim of Privilege for White House Visitor Logs (The New York Times) 

Supreme Court Won’t Stop Congress From Accessing Jan. 6 Files, Despite Lawsuit From Trump (Forbes)

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

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