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Biden likely won't shield Trump records from Jan. 6 investigators, White House says

Biden "concluded that it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege" on Trump's behalf, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Image: Donald Trump
Then-President Donald Trump arrives to speak to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House on Jan. 6, 2021.Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images file

President Joe Biden will not shield former President Donald Trump's records from the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by invoking executive privilege, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

Asked about Trump's assertion that he would fight subpoenas from the Jan. 6 Select Committee by invoking the presidential power, Psaki said that decision ultimately lies with Biden.

"We take this matter incredibly seriously," she said. "The president has already concluded that it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege, and so we will respond promptly to these questions as they arise, and certainly, as they come up from Congress."

While sitting presidents have traditionally used the power to shield certain information and records from the public at the request of their predecessors, Psaki said what happened during the Capitol riot deserves transparency.

"We have been working closely with the congressional committee and others as they get to the bottom of what happened on Jan. 6th, an incredibly dark day in our democracy," she said at the daily briefing.

She softened her remarks a little later in the briefing, saying the president has "an eye to not asserting executive privilege, and obviously, some of this is predicting what we don’t know yet, but that is certainly his overarching view."

Her comments came one day after the committee subpoenaed and set a date for sworn depositions for several top Trump allies — former White House strategist Steve Bannon, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former social media director Dan Scavino and Kashyap Patel, who was chief of staff to Trump's acting defense secretary.

Trump said in a statement Thursday that, "We will fight the subpoenas on executive privilege and other grounds, for the good of our country." He also referred to the fact-finding panel as the "'Unselect Committee' of highly partisan politicians."

Biden's stance should make the panel's path easier, but Trump could still file a legal challenge to the committee's push to get his records from the National Archives.

The panel's document request to the National Archives is 10 pages long and seeks "documents and communications within the White House on January 6, 2021” related to Trump’s advisers and family members. It also asks for his specific movements on that day and communications, if any, from the White House Situation Room.

To date, over 600 people have been charged criminally for the Jan. 6 riot.