WASHINGTON (LifeSiteNews) — Former President Donald Trump filed a federal lawsuit Monday in a bid to block the House of Representatives’ January 6 committee from obtaining documents from his administration, calling the request a “vexatious, illegal fishing expedition” which is “untethered from any legitimate legislative purpose.”
The former president argued that the request to comb through records of his administration is “almost limitless in scope” and violates executive privilege.
Trump has named the House select committee investigating the events of January 6, its chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the National Archives, and national archivist David Ferriero in the lawsuit.
The legal challenge asks the D.C. District Court to issue an injunction preventing Congress from obtaining the documents, which include internal staff communications and officials’ social media posts, until the records are identified and presented for review by Trump’s team, Politico reported.
“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 states, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Our laws do not permit such an impulsive, egregious action against a former President and his close advisors.”
The move to sue the House select committee came after the so-called January 6 committee asked the National Archives to “turn over detailed records on the actions of Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and other members of the administration taken on January 6,” the Daily Wire reported.
The committee also requested all documentation “relating to the former president’s push to delay the certification of the 2020 election.”
The AP reported that although Trump’s lawsuit came as no surprise, his suit “went beyond the initial 125 pages of records that Biden recently cleared for release to the committee” and “seeks to invalidate the entirety of the congressional request, calling it overly broad, unduly burdensome and a challenge to separation of powers.”
In a memo released October 18, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich argued that Trump’s lawsuit is an effort to defend “the Constitution, the Office of the President, and the future of our nation, against a ‘hyper-partisan and illegitimate investigation.’”
Memo on President Donald J. Trump’s Lawsuit to Defend Executive Privilege, U.S. Constitution pic.twitter.com/LsLyJbbA6s
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) October 18, 2021
Laying out three pillars of the former president’s legal action, Budowich said “[t]he legislative committees’ request fails to meet the basic requirement of fulfilling a legislative purpose. The request is not just overly broad, it requests documents including campaign polling data — what does Congress hope to learn from this?”
Budowich also addressed the issue of “executive privilege,” which gives discretionary rights to the president and other executive branch officials to withhold documents from Congress or the courts.
According to the memo, “[a]n incumbent administration does not have the constitutional authority to unilaterally waive the executive privilege of a previous administration — especially one so recent. If it did, then executive privilege doesn’t exist, including for Joe Biden.”
It is unclear whether Trump will be successful in claiming executive privilege now that his administration has ended.
The spokesman also argued that since the amount of documentation requested by the committee is so broad, the National Archives has not “had the time to compile and organize the documents being requested by Congress.”
“President Trump and Joe Biden should be afforded the time to diligently review any protected and privileged documents before it is released to the public,” Budowich said.
In response to the former president’s legal action, January 6 Chairman Rep. Thompson along with committee vice-chair Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming — who voted to impeach Trump following the Capitol riot — released a joint statement arguing Trump’s legal action is an effort to “stop the Select Committee from getting to the facts.”
“The former President’s clear objective is to stop the Select Committee from getting to the facts about January 6th and his lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our probe,” the statement said.
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“Precedent and law are on our side. Executive privilege is not absolute and President Biden has so far declined to invoke that privilege. Additionally, there’s a long history of the White House accommodating congressional investigative requests when the public interest outweighs other concerns. It’s hard to imagine a more compelling public interest than trying to get answers about an attack on our democracy and an attempt to overturn the results of an election,” Cheney and Thompson argued.
Meanwhile, Trump’s team asserted that the January 6 Committee’s attempt to gain access to a trove of Trump-administration records is an effort to score “political wins for the Democrats” and amounts to a “political persecution” of the former president and his allies.
In the memo announcing Trump’s lawsuit, Budowich said “[t]he Committee is motivated by one thing: delivering political wins for the Democrats. That’s why they’ve set a rapid timetable that steamrolls the Constitution, legal precedent, and established process.”
“The Committee isn’t seeking the truth, it’s seeking Communist-style political persecution of President Trump and the America First patriots who served their country honorably,” Budowich said.
The Daily Wire noted that on October 8, President Joe Biden “declined to invoke executive privilege over the requested documents,” greenlighting the release of the records to the January 6 Committee.
According to the report, White House counsel Dana Remus wrote a letter to archivist Ferriero requesting he release 125 pages of documents identified by President Biden to the committee.
“The President instructs you, in accord with Section 4(b) of Executive Order 13489, to provide the pages identified as privileged by the former President to the Select Committee,” Remus wrote.
“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,” she said.