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Trump seeks to shield call logs from Jan 6 investigators


WASHINGTON: The White House documents related to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol whose publication Donald Trump seeks to block include records from his top aides and memos to his press secretary, according to a court document published on Saturday.

In a court filing, the National Archives listed the files the former US president wants to stop from being handed over to Congress, in an escalation of his efforts to resist investigators looking into the deadly insurrection.

Trump seeks to block the publication of over 770 pages of documents, which include records of his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, his former senior advisor Stephen Miller, and his former deputy counsel Patrick Philbin.

Trump also wants to block the release of the White House Daily Diary — a record of his activities, trips, briefings and phone calls.

Another trove of documents Trump does not want Congress to see includes memos to his former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, a handwritten note on the January 6 events, and a draft text of his speech at the “Save America” rally which led up to the attack.

The challenge will likely touch off an extended high-stakes showdown in the courts that will test the constitutional authority of Congress to scrutinize the executive branch, and of a former president to resist such efforts.

Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol nine months ago in an effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory.

They had been urged on by Trump, whose fiery speech earlier that day falsely claiming election fraud was the culmination of months of baseless claims about a contest which repeated audits and recounts confirmed he had lost fairly to Biden.

Congressional investigators are seeking testimony from officials who could speak to what Trump, who is believed to be considering running for a second term in 2024, knew about the attack beforehand, and what he did while it was ongoing.

Since late August, the National Archives has been sending Biden and Trump voluminous records requested by investigators, giving them 30 days to review materials.

The Supreme Court has ruled that presidents can keep certain documents and discussions confidential to promote more candid discourse with aides.

Trump is far from the first to take advantage of this carve-out. In explaining why Biden has not shielded Trump’s records, White House counsel Dana Remus wrote that they could “shed light on events within the White House on and about January 6 and bear on the Select Committee’s need to understand the facts underlying the most serious attack on the operations of the Federal Government since the Civil War.”

On Jan 6, an armed mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to stop the certification of Biden’s election victory. Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House on a charge he incited the riot but was acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.

Trump called the document requests a “vexatious, illegal fishing expedition” that was “untethered from any legitimate legislative purpose,” in his lawsuit to block the National Archives from turning over the documents to the committee.

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