MARY CLAIR JALONICK, JILL COLVIN and COLYN LONG
WASHINGTON (AP) – A House committee tasked with investigating the January 6 Capitol uprising is moving quickly on Tuesday to show disrespect for at least one of Donald Trump’s allies as the former president suppresses the investigation in a new lawsuit.
Trump is aggressively trying to block the committee’s work by ordering former White House aide Steve Bannon not to answer questions during the investigation, and is also suing the commission to try to prevent Congress from obtaining documents from the former White House. But lawmakers on a House committee say they won’t back down as they gather facts and evidence of an attack involving Trump supporters that injured dozens of police officers, fled for their lives, and cut off President Joe Biden’s victory certificate.
“The former president’s clear goal is to prevent the Special Committee from getting to the facts about January 6, and his lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our investigation,” said Rep. Benny Thompson, a Rep. And Republican. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, deputy chairman of the commission, in a joint statement late Monday.
They added: “It is difficult to imagine a more compelling public interest than trying to get answers about the attack on our democracy and the attempt to overturn the election results.”
Trump’s lawsuit, filed after Biden decided to waive his right to block publication of the document due to concerns over executive privileges, argued that the commission’s August request was too broad and “an annoying illegal fishing expedition,” according to filings filed with Federal District Court. Colombia.
The lawsuit was anticipated as Trump has repeatedly made it clear that he will challenge the investigation into the violent attack by a mob of supporters. But Trump’s challenge went beyond the original 125 pages of notes that Biden recently approved for submission to the committee. The lawsuit, which mentions the committee as well as the National Archives, seeks to invalidate the entire Congressional request, calling it too broad, overly burdensome and challenging the separation of powers. It requires an injunction prohibiting the archivist from providing documents.
The Biden administration, when negotiating documents for the release, said the violent siege of the Capitol more than nine months ago was such an extraordinary circumstance that it deserves to relinquish the privilege that normally protects the White House connection.
The legal problem arose the day before the commission was to vote to recommend that Bannon be convicted of contempt of Congress for his disregard for the committee’s demands for documents and testimony. In a resolution released on Monday that is to be removed from the commission on Tuesday, the committee argues that the former Trump aide and podcast host has no legal right to rebuff the committee – even though Trump’s lawyer argued that Bannon should not disclose information. … because it is protected by the privilege of the former president’s cabinet.
The committee said Bannon was a private individual when he spoke to Trump ahead of the attack, and Trump made no claim to such executive privileges to the commission itself.
“Mister. It seems that Bannon played a multifaceted role in the events of January 6, and the American people have a right to hear his first-hand testimony of his actions,” the committee said in a resolution.
The resolution lists the many ways Bannon has been involved in preparing the uprising, including reporting that he urged Trump to focus on January 6, the day that Congress confirmed the presidential vote, and his January 5 comments that “everyone, damn, going to break out “the next day.
Once the committee votes in favor of a measure of contempt for Bannon, it will move to a full house vote and then to the Justice Department, which will decide whether to pursue a case.
In a letter received by the Associated Press, the White House also tried to refute Bannon’s arguments. Deputy Legal Counsel Jonathan Su wrote that the president’s decision on the documents also extended to Bannon, and “at this time we do not know of any reason for your client’s refusal to appear to testify.”
“President Biden’s determination that assertion of privilege is not warranted in relation to these issues applies to your client’s testimony and to any documents your client may have on any of these issues,” Su wrote to Bannon’s lawyer.
Bannon’s lawyer said he had not yet seen the letter and could not comment on it. While Bannon said he needed a court order before he could execute the subpoena, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former White House and Pentagon aide Kashyap Patel were in talks with the committee. It’s unclear if fourth former White House aide Dan Scavino will comply.
The committee has also summoned more than a dozen people who helped plan Trump’s pre-siege rallies, some of whom have already said they will hand over documents and testify.
The committee demanded a wide range of executive documents related to intelligence gathered before the attack, security preparations during and before the siege, rallies by Trump supporters that day, and Trump’s false claims that he won the election, among other things.
Associated Press contributors Zeke Miller, Nomaan Merchant, and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.