January 6th Committee gets its day in the sun

Things are heating up with Donald Trump’s claims of executive privilege in his efforts to keep records from the House Select Committee. Washington Monthly wrote last month that his lawsuit has one “fatal flaw” – he claims “no legitimate interest” on the part of the committee because they are not attempting to rewrite statutes but are merely on a fishing expedition. As this report details, however, legislation is exactly what they have in mind. Besides, it is Congress’ job to conduct disciplinary proceedings, including preventing anyone (like Trump) from ever again holding public office if they violated the Constitution.

The committee’s lawyers have made clear that the committee is acting within its jurisdiction by delving into what happened on January 6. They want to create legislation to ensure that something like this never happens again. In short, this is a matter of national security. Kel McClanahan, a George Washington University law professor, filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief outlining these issues for the court. It does not help Trump that it has recently been revealed that campaign funds were used to assist in his attempts to prevent President Biden from assuming office, including Salon’s report that “judge” Jeanine Pirro ran a “command center” for payments from the Trump campaign to reimburse Rudy Giuliani and ex-New York City Police Chief Bernie Kerik’s efforts in futility to overturn the 2020 election. Pirro arranged over $225,000 in payments, and experts believe this quashes Trump’s arguments for executive privilege. John Yoo, former legal counsel to the DOJ under Bush, said: “If he’s acting as a candidate, he’s deprived of all of those protections.”

According to CNN, Judge Tanya Chutkan has already expressed doubt about the validity of Trump’s arguments. She questioned Trump’s lawyers as to why they believe Trump has the right to control public access to records given the ongoing investigation in the House. In her view, because Congress is considering legislation resulting from the January 6 insurrection, the information in controversy may not be considered privileged. Some of the items they want to keep private are ridiculous, such as visitor logs, activity logs, and switchboard logs. Those have nothing whatsoever to do with privilege. Trump must honestly have something to hide based on his drive to keep virtually everything from Congress.

  

We should know more soon, as Judge Chutkan has promised to issue her ruling quickly. It is somewhat telling that she pointed out that the power to waive privilege rests with the sitting president. Regardless of what Trump’s lawyers had to say, we all have a right to know what Trump was up to that day and whether he violated the Constitution, preventing him from ever again holding public office. There was never anything even remotely presidential about Trump, and he wanted to remain in office so badly he was willing to do anything. He will delay these proceedings if he can, but the hearing may not matter in the end, as the National Archives attorneys have indicated that they plan to hand over documents on November 12. Get ready for fireworks.

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