Trump Sues to Block Release of White House Papers to Jan. 6 Inquiry

The case raises novel constitutional questions about the scope of an ex-president’s executive privilege powers if the current president disagrees.,


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WASHINGTON — Former President Donald J. Trump sued Congress and the National Archives on Monday, seeking to block the disclosure of White House files related to his actions and communications surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

In a 26-page complaint, a lawyer for Mr. Trump argued that the materials must remain secret as a matter of executive privilege. They argued that the Constitution gives him the right to demand their confidentiality even though he is no longer in office — and even though President Biden has refused to assert executive privilege over them.

The lawsuit touches off what is likely to be a major legal battle between Mr. Trump and the House committee investigating the attack, in which a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol seeking to disrupt Congress’s counting of electoral votes to formalize Mr. Biden’s victory. Its outcome will carry consequences for how much the panel can uncover about the riot, and pose thorny questions for the Biden administration.

“In a political ploy to accommodate his partisan allies, President Biden has refused to assert executive privilege over numerous clearly privileged documents requested by the committee,” Jesse R. Binnall, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, wrote in his complaint.

The committee has demanded detailed records about Mr. Trump’s every movement and meeting on the day of the assault. The committee’s demands, sent to the National Archives and Records Administration, include any material the administration has about any plans hatched within the White House or other federal agencies to derail the Electoral College vote count by Congress.

In a pair of letters this month to the National Archives, which is the custodian of White House papers from Mr. Trump’s tenure, Mr. Biden’s top White House lawyer, Dana Remus, has made clear that the current president does not think a claim of executive privilege is legitimate under these circumstances.

“The constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself,” Ms. Remus wrote.

Mr. Trump’s lawsuit names as defendants Representative Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who is chairman of the special House committee investigating the attack, and David S. Ferriero, the head of the National Archives.

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