White House: Executive privilege shouldn't shield evidence of 'effort to subvert the Constitution'
The White House on Tuesday pushed back against former President Trump ’s effort to block the release of documents to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, saying executive privilege should not be used to shield evidence of “a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself.”
“Our view, and I think the view of the vast majority of Americans, is that former President Trump abused the office of the presidency and attempted to subvert the peaceful transfer of power, something that had happened between Democratic and Republican presidencies for decades and decades throughout history,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday when asked to respond to Trump’s lawsuit. “The former president’s actions represented a unique and existential threat to our democracy that we don’t feel can be swept under the rug.”
“The constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself,” Psaki added.
Trump filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol in an effort to block the panel from obtaining Trump-era White House documents from the National Archives. He argued that the select committee has not demonstrated a legitimate legislative purpose to override his claims of privilege and that the committee’s request is unconstitutional because of its breadth.
"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 reads. "Our laws do not permit such an impulsive, egregious action against a former President and his close advisors."
President Biden ’s White House declined to exert executive privilege on the first tranche of documents requested by the select committee.
The committee vowed to fight the lawsuit, accusing Trump of attempting to obstruct the investigation into the attack on Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters earlier this year.
The suit is the opening salvo in what is likely to be a prolonged and contentious legal fight over executive privilege and the legislative branch’s investigative authority. It’s unclear how Trump’s lawsuit will fare. The Supreme Court previously ruled during the Nixon era that former presidents have some authority to assert executive privilege.