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White House rejects Trump’s claims of executive privilege over Jan. 6 Capitol riot documents

WASHINGTON — The battle over White House records of former President Donald Trump’s activities related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack intensified Wednesday as President Joe Biden formally rejected Trump’s claims that the documents should be shielded from release to the House select committee investigating the insurrection.

In a letter to the National Archives, the White House counsel’s office said President Biden is “instructing” the agency to comply with the House select committee’s request for the records.

“President [Biden] maintains his conclusion that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States,” the letter states, after Trump last week made a broad effort to keep confidants from cooperating with the probe.

“President Biden does not uphold the former President’s assertion of privilege,” said Wednesday’s letter, which also told the agency that “in light of the urgency of the Select Committee’s need for the information, the President further instructs you to provide those pages 30 days after your notification to the former President, absent any intervening court order.”

NEW REPORT: Watching Jan. 6 Capitol riot unfold, Trump liked what he saw, boasted about crowd size, sources say

Trump issued a statement late last week saying the requests “are not based in law or reality — it’s just a game to these politicians. They don’t care about our Country or the American people.” Trump went on to say the Democrats are “drunk on power.”

Wednesday’s move comes as the committee ramps up its efforts to move ahead with its investigation. Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen testified before the committee Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the proceedings.

On Tuesday, the committee issued a subpoena to former Associate Attorney General Jeffrey Clark. A lawyer for Clark declined to comment when reached by ABC News.

The House select committee has subpoenaed multiple former White House officials and aides to Trump and his campaign, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The committee has said Meadows has been cooperating with the committee, though the extent of his participation in the investigation is unclear.

However, former Trump White House senior advisor and one-time campaign CEO Steve Bannon is standing firm in rebuffing the committee. In a second letter to the committee, obtained by ABC News, Bannon’s lawyer says they have been directed by Trump’s counsel not to respond, citing the former president’s invocation of executive privilege.
“Until such a time as you reach an agreement with President Trump or receive a court ruling as to the extent, scope and application of the executive privilege … Mr. Bannon will not be producing documents or testifying,” Bannon’s counsel, Robert Costello wrote in a letter to committee chairman Bennie Thompson.

Thompson and vice-chair Liz Cheney said last week they would “swiftly consider” holding Bannon, and potentially others, in contempt of Congress for ignoring committee subpoenas.

Sources confirmed to ABC News that Trump’s lawyer sent a letter to several of those subpoenaed informing them that the former president wants the subpoenas ignored and that he plans to claim executive privilege. In the letter, Trump suggested he would be willing to take the matter to court to block their cooperation.

White House counsel Dana Remus said in an earlier letter to the National Archives that the White House “has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States,” but that they would “respond accordingly” if Trump asserts executive privilege over only a subset of the documents.

The committee has issued at least 18 subpoenas, with most going to Trump associates and individuals linked to the rallies in Washington on the day of the Capitol riot.

ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021 ABC News Internet Ventures.




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