Trump’s allies lean on his claims of executive privilege

Previous President TrumpDonald Trump Rittenhouse Says Biden Slandered His Character By Linking Him To White Supremacists Night Health Care: White House Touts Vaccination Rate For Feds Trump Backs Hogan Challenger In Maryland Governor Race MOREThe inner circle relies on unanswered legal questions about the extent of its authority to invoke executive privilege in its defiance of the House select committee subpoenas on Jan.6.

The former aides and advisers are following the lead of Trump, who is fighting in court to prevent the panel from obtaining hundreds of pages of internal White House records and arguing that he has the right as a former president to keep them out of the reach of Congress. .

Attorneys for the former White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Meadows Jan. 6 Panel Summons Roger Stone, Alex Jones Christie: McCarthy, Not Trump, Will Be Next President Lofgren – Many Witnesses From The Jan. 6 Panel Are Former Trump Officials MORE and former strategist Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin Bannon Christie: McCarthy, not Trump, will be the next President Lofgren: Many witnesses from the January 6 panel are former Trump officials The January 6 panel may see influence from Bannon’s impeachment MORE They argue that it would be premature to comply with the subpoenas before the courts can address the dispute over the scope and weight of Trump’s claims of executive privilege.

Democrats question the justification offered by the Trump camp, accusing them of attempting to delay or obstruct the Jan.6 investigation, but the deadlock is raising the stakes for the committee as it seeks a swift and decisive court victory to secure the internal records of the White House. . A ruling against lawmakers could have a cascading effect on your potential witnesses and sources.

The crux of Trump’s lawsuit is not about his former aides, but about his presidential records, held by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which had been set up to publish a large number of documents covering everyone. top employees and even the Trump family on January 6 following the passage of President BidenJoe BidenRittenhouse says Biden defamed his character when he linked him to white supremacists Man charged with threatening Congress sentenced to 19 months in prison 91 House Democrats ask Senate to expand immigration protections in the U.S. bill Biden expenses PLUS.

But attorneys for those aides say the former president’s lawsuit will resolve unanswered questions about the weight of Trump’s executive privilege claims now that he is no longer in office and provide legal clarity on how they should proceed with respect to subpoenas. of the committee.

Evan Corcoran, Bannon’s defense attorney in the criminal contempt proceeding that the Justice Department initiated earlier this month for challenging a subpoena, told a federal judge last week that his client’s case should not be rushed, in Part because Trump’s lawsuit will guide Bannon’s legal defense.

“It will be helpful while we are shaping the arguments in the briefs so that our motions practice has the benefit of the court record and the determinations that are made on that matter,” Corcoran said during a pretrial hearing earlier this month.

George Terwilliger, a former deputy attorney general under the George HW Bush administration representing Meadows, has said the sharp dispute over the scope of executive privilege between the select committee and Trump’s inner circle should go up in court.

“Our correspondence in recent weeks shows a sharp legal dispute with the committee,” Terwilliger said in a statement earlier this month. “The questions are whether Mr. Meadows can be compelled to testify and whether, even if he could, he could be compelled to answer questions that involve privileged communications. Courts adequately resolve legal disputes. It would be irresponsible for Mr. Meadows to prematurely resolve that dispute by voluntarily giving up privileges that are at the core of these legal problems. “

House Democrats have dismissed those objections as an effort to block the select committee’s investigation ahead of next year’s midterm elections, which could abruptly halt the investigation if Republicans regain the lower house, as they hope. many election observers.

“That’s the same stalemate tactic they’ve had for weeks,” Rep. Rep. Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray Aguilar All eyes on Garland after Bannon’s contempt vote First Senator formally endorses Bass in the Los Angeles mayoral race Bass receives endorsement from EMILY’s List MORE (D-Calif.)

“They’re going to keep, you know, making up reasons not to have conversations with us. It is not a new argument. “

For Meadows, the dance on whether to stand for a deposition has been on since he was first summoned in September, “interacting” with the committee after his initial deposition date in October until lawmakers lost patience and demanded November’s testimony, so the former chief of staff did not show up.

Meadows now risks the same consequences as Bannon if the select committee decides to hold him in contempt and the House refers him to the Justice Department for criminal contempt of Congress.

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben Raskin Oversight panel notes excessive bail and overcrowding in prisons in New York City Jan.6 panel may see influence of Bannon impeachment Maryland Democrats point to lone Republican in a redistricting scheme MORE (D-Md.), Who is part of the committee, said that the NARA case and the issue of witness compliance “have nothing to do with each other.”

“That is just obfuscation. That is confusion, ”he told reporters last week.

The committee scored a quick initial victory in the NARA case earlier this month, and a federal judge rejected Trump’s demand to keep the records secret.

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals gave Trump a brief reprieve by temporarily blocking NARA from releasing the records while it hears the legal challenge, which could soon go before the Supreme Court.

But the DC Circuit also set a rapid pace for Trump’s appeal, with oral arguments set to be heard on November 30, so it’s unclear how long the former president will be able to time out.

Democrats say Trump and his allies are pushing for a maximalist interpretation of executive privilege that is at odds with the law and how it has been employed by previous administrations. Raskin said the Trump camp’s arguments on privilege would expand him “beyond any credulity.”

“To say that it would apply would mean that there is an executive privilege that covers insurrectionary activity in the country. Do we really mean to say that there is executive privilege for people to try to overthrow the United States government … I mean, it’s just ridiculous. It makes the Constitution sound like a kind of death sentence for democracy, and we know that’s not it. “

“Anyone who has been summoned by a court or by the United States Congress to appear at a specified date and time with specific materials has a legal obligation to do so,” Raskin said. “You can’t ignore a subpoena and you can’t stay home and sit on your couch and talk to people about the Fifth Amendment or executive privilege, but not show up. You have a legal duty to present yourself. “

Whether former aides are required to comply with subpoenas can only be partially resolved by the Bannon prosecution.

Bannon was not a White House employee on Jan.6, leaving lawmakers confident that he has little chance of prevailing in court, even as his legal team argues that executive privilege is still a valid excuse to challenge the committee because chairmen should feel free to consult with their exes. helpers.

And it is still an open question whether Bannon will be tried soon enough for the committee to flag his case as a way to dissuade witnesses from challenging his subpoenas.

Less clear is whether the committee has an open and closed case with Meadows, who was still serving in the White House on the day of the attack.

Lawmakers largely sidestepped that question when asked by reporters if the committee will have a harder time enforcing the subpoena against Meadows.

“Mr. Meadows has clear information that the committee needs and the committee will have access to that information and no one can hide behind claims of executive privilege when talking about an assault on Capitol Hill that was a clear effort to stop the democratic electoral counting process. . votes ”, vice president Liz cheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn Cheney Two Fox News contributors resigned over Tucker Carlson January 6 documentary Trump supports Gosar after no-confidence vote McCarthy vows to restore Greene and Gosar to committees if Republican Party wins the House PLUS (R-Wyoming) told reporters last week.

How the DC Circuit, and potentially the Supreme Court, decides Trump’s legal challenge to the committee’s request for documents could help shape the course and effectiveness of the investigation. In an appeal brief filed Monday, lawyers for the select committee argued that the records are vitally important and of the utmost urgency.

“The delay in itself would inflict serious constitutional injury on the Select Committee by interfering with its legislative duty,” the filing reads. The Select Committee needs the documents now because they will shape the direction of the investigation. “

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