Posts tagged with "Former President Donald Trump"

Watchdog: Trump’s DHS delayed and altered report on Russian interference in 2020 election

May 6, 2022

Former President Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security delayed and altered an intelligence report related to Russian interference in the 2020 election—making changes that “appear to be based in part on political considerations,”  according to a newly released watchdog report.

The April 26 Homeland Security inspector general’s assessment provides a damning look at the way DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis dealt with intelligence related to Russia’s efforts to interfere in the United States, stating the department had deviated from its standard procedures in modifying, assessments related to Moscow’s targeting of the 2020 presidential election, reports CNN.

The conclusion that Trump’s appointee appeared to have tried to downplay Russian meddling in a key intelligence report is the latest example of how his aides managed his aversion to any information about how Russia might be helping his election prospects. According to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, Trump officials tried to avoid the topic during meetings and at hearings, because he would become enraged and upset when Russian meddling came up.

The U.S. intelligence community announced during the 2020 campaign that Russia was actively meddling in the election to weaken then-candidate Joe Biden. At the time, Trump downplayed those findings and promoted false claims about Biden that aligned with Russia’s disinformation efforts. The IG report addresses past suspicions that Trump appointees distorted some intelligence reports to foster a more Trump-friendly narrative.

The watchdog found, for example, that then-Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf had participated in the review process “multiple times despite lacking any formal role in reviewing the product,” which caused delays and may have helped create the “perception” that assessments were changed for political reasons.

“We determined that the Acting Secretary’s involvement led to the rare occurrence of I&A ceasing dissemination of a product after it had already been approved by the mission manager and circulated via advanced notification,” the report states.

“The delays and deviation from I&A’s standard process and requirements put I&A at risk of creating a perception of politicization. This conclusion is supported by I&A’s own tradecraft assessment, which determined that the product might be viewed as politicized,” it continues.

The report stems from previous allegations that the Trump Administration downplaying Russian interference. CNN first reported in September 2020 a whistleblower complaint alleging that top political appointees in DHS repeatedly instructed career officials to modify intelligence assessments to suit Trump’s agenda by downplaying Russia’s efforts to interfere in the United States.

The whistleblower claimed that Wolf had instructed DHS officials to “cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference” and, instead, focus their efforts on gathering information related to activities being carried out by China and Iran.

Research contact: @CNN

The inexplicable 7-hour gap in the Trump White House’s January 6 call log

March 30, 2022

Fifty years ago, the scandalous actions of an American president were shielded from public view, thanks to a suspiciously convenient 18½-minute gap in the Nixon White House’s call recordings. Today, the actions of another American president remain shielded thanks to another convenient—and inexplicable— gap in White House records, reports The Washington Post.

The Post’s Bob Woodward and CBS News’s Robert Costa state that White House documents turned over to the House January 6 select committee display a gap of 7 hours and 37 minutes between phone calls then-President Donald Trump had with allies.

The gap takes place between 11:17 a.m. and 6:54 p.m., covering virtually the entirety of the insurrection at the Capitol, which was first breached at 2:11 p.m. on January 6, 2021.

Other Trump actions are recorded for that period, including an hour-plus-long speech he gave at a rally that preceded the insurrection, and some of his movements inside the White House. But vast stretches of time are unaccounted for, The Washington Post says.

Why is that inexplicable? Because the documents show Trump rather feverishly working the phones at virtually all other times. He spoke to at least eight people that morning, in the period before the more than seven-hour gap, and he spoke to at least 11 people afterward. He also repeatedly requested calls with, and received messages from, the White House switchboard.

Perhaps most important, we know the logs are missing at least four calls — and important ones, at that — that have become public knowledge in the year since January 6.

The documents appear to exclude calls Trump had with then-Vice President Mike Pence, Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California). We already know that the latter two occurred during the gap, and the other two might well have.

Trump also requested a number of calls with people with whom calls were never recorded in the logs, including Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), who led the effort to stop Congress from finalizing Trump’s loss, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), whom an aide said

And the final call recorded before the gap—at 11:17 a.m.—lists the other party on the call as an “unidentified person.” It’s the only such call listed, and for some reason it’s featured in Trump’s daily diary but not in the call log (as the other calls are).

Below is a timeline of what is known, based on the White House documents (both the call log and the daily diary) and other key events in the public record (in italics), along with the missing and incomplete call information (in bold).

For brevity, the Post excludes most requests for calls that were soon recorded as having taken place, while keeping requests for other calls that either weren’t recorded or didn’t happen for several hours.

  • 8:34 a.m. — Kurt Olsen
  • 8:37 a.m. — Stephen K. Bannon
  • 8:45 a.m. — Rudy Giuliani
  • 8:56 a.m. — Requests White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows
  • 9:02 a.m. — Requests Vice President Mike Pence
  • 9:16 a.m. — Requests Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (a call that an aide says the senator declined)
  • 9:24 a.m. — Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
  • 9:39 a.m. — Requests Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)
  • 9:41 a.m. — Giuliani
  • 9:52 a.m. — Stephen Miller
  • 10:32 a.m. — Nick Luna
  • 10:45 a.m. — William Bennett
  • 11:04 a.m. — Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.)
  • 11:11 a.m. — Meets with his children and advisers

 

  • 11:17 a.m. —Call with unidentified person (no end time for call recorded, not recorded at all on call log)
  • Late morning— Pence (during which Trump reportedly tells him: “Mike, you can do this. I’m counting on you to do it. If you don’t do it, I picked the wrong man four years ago.” He adds, according to Woodward and Costa, “You’re going to wimp out!”)
  • 11:38 a.m. — Leaves for “Stop the Steal” rally
  • 12 p.m.-1:17 p.m. — Speech at “Stop the Steal” rally
  • 1:19 p.m. — Returns to White House
  • 1:21 p.m. — Meets with valet
  • 2:11 p.m. — Capitol is breached
  • 2:13 p.m. — Pence escorted from House chamber
  • ??? — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). (McCarthy has said he was “the first person to contact [Trump] when the riot was going on.” Trump reportedly told McCarthy, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”)
  • 2:24 p.m. — Trump tweets attacking Pence
  • 2:26 p.m. — Mistakenly calls Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) seeking Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). Lee hands phone to Tuberville.
  • ??? — At least one more call with Jordan. (Jordan has confirmed he spoke with Trump multiple timesthat day. Politico reported this call took place early in the insurrection and featured Jordan and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida asking Trump to call off his supporters.)

 

  • 4:03 p.m.-4:07 p.m. — Records message to supporters in Rose Garden

 

  • 6:54 p.m. — Requests Dan Scavino
  • 7:01 p.m. — Pat Cipollone
  • 7:08 p.m. — Scavino
  • 7:16 p.m. — Informed of pending calls from five people: Olsen, Mark Martin, Cleta Mitchell, Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and Hawley. Trump asks for calls to Olsen, Martin, and Mitchell.
  • 7:17 p.m. — Olsen
  • 7:30 p.m. — Mark Martin
  • 7:40 p.m. — Olsen
  • 7:53 p.m. — Mitchell
  • 8:39 p.m. — Giuliani
  • 9:23 a.m. — Jason Miller
  • 9:42 p.m. — Kayleigh McEnany
  • 9:55 p.m. — Scavino
  • 10:11 p.m. — Meadows
  • 10:19 p.m. — Bannon
  • 10:50 p.m. — Eric Herschmann
  • 11:08 p.m. — Fox News host Sean Hannity
  • 11:23 p.m. — John McEntee

The White House isn’t the only entity to have slow-rolled its disclosure of Trump’s calls with Jordan; so did Jordan, who implausibly claimed he didn’t remember how often he spoke to Trump or when. His office later confirmed there were multiple calls between the two that day, but only one is recorded by the White House.

McCarthy also threatened phone and tech companies that supplied records to the Jan. 6 committee with retribution if Republicans retake the House.

There is no question that information is missing. The question is how much and why. Were people caught up in the moment and not recording things after the insurrection was underway? That seems possible, but certainly these times would seem to call for extra care in recording Trump’s actions.

Perhaps relevant to that question is the call at 11:17 a.m. Not only is the other party not identified (unlike the other calls), but it also features no end time (unlike the other calls) and doesn’t appear in the call log (unlike the other calls). You could certainly make an argument, then, that the gap stretches to nearly eight hours, between Trump’s calls with Perdue at 11:04 a.m. and his request for Scavino at 6:54 p.m.

But also consider this, the Post says: That call would have been listed on the next page of records, if there were such a record. The gap somehow neatly breaks down with the last recorded call—with Perdue at 11:04 a.m.—at the end of one page and the beginning of the next one—the request for Scavino at 6:54 p.m.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Mo Brooks hits back: ‘Trump demanded I kick Biden out of White House’

March 25, 2022

Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) hit back at his former pal Donald Trump on March 23 with an extraordinary allegation: In the wake of Trump’s 2020 election loss, the former president demanded that Brooks immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, reinstall Trump, and then hold a brand new election for the presidency, reports The Daily Beast.

Brooks made the accusation in a statement released after Trump ranted that Brooks “went ‘woke’” and “made a horrible mistake” by calling for people to get over the former president’s 2020 election loss.

In a typically vindictive statement, the twice-impeached former president revoked his endorsement for Brooks in Alabama’s U.S. Senate primary, saying it was “very sad” that Brooks—who was accused of helping to organize the “Stop the Steal” rally that took place before the deadly Capitol riot—had “decided to go in a different direction.”

He blasted Brooks for telling attendees at an Alabama rally to move on from Trumpworld’s relentless grievances over the 2020 election.

“Referring to the 2020 Presidential Election Scam,” Trump fumed, Brooks said, “Put that behind you, put that behind you.”

“The 2020 Election was rigged, and we can’t let them get away with that,” Trump wrote, claiming Brooks’ “unstoppable” lead in the Senate race had disappeared because of his comments.

Brooks made the comments way back in August. He nevertheless hit back on Wednesday, insisting it was Trump, not him, who had changed.

“When the President calls me ‘woke,’ there’s not anybody in Alabama with a brain larger than the size of a pea who believes that Mo Brooks is a woke liberal,” he told ABC News in a tweet.

In a statement, he claimed Trump was being manipulated by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) into attacking Brooks. “Every single negative TV ad against our campaign has come from McConnell and his allies. I wish President Trump wouldn’t fall for McConnell’s ploys but, once again, he has,” he said.

Then Brooks went even further—accusing Trump of asking him to rescind the 2020 elections, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately reinstall Trump, and hold a new special election for the presidency. In further comments to ABC, Brooks claimed Trump repeatedly asked him repeatedly “off and on since Sept. 2021” to re-do the election.

“As a lawyer, I’ve repeatedly advised President Trump that January 6 was the final election contest verdict and neither the U.S. Constitution nor the U.S. Code permit what President Trump asks. Period,” he said in his statement.

“I’ve told President Trump the truth knowing full well that it might cause [him] to rescind his endorsement. But I took a sworn oath to defend and protect the U.S. Constitution. I honor my oath. That is the way I am. I break my sworn oath for no man.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Cheney, Kinzinger call out Trump over Pence comments

February 1, 2022

Representatives Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) called out former President Donald Trump after he suggested that former Vice President Mike Pence should have overturned the results of the 2020 presidential election, reports The Hill.

Cheney and Kinzinger—who are the only two Republicans serving on the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol—characterized the ex-president’s comments as un-American.

Cheney outlined a series of Trump’s recent statements in a tweet on Monday, January 31— including his admission that “he was attempting to overturn the election”— before writing, “He’d do it all again if given the chance.”

The Wyoming Republican, who is facing a Trump-backed primary challenger, also noted that Trump previously said he would consider pardoning individuals charged in connection to the January 6 riot if he runs for president again and wins another term in the White House.

Kinzinger on Sunday said Trump’s statement earlier that day was “an admission” and “massively un-American.” He then offered an ultimatum to GOP leaders, calling on them to “pick a side” between Trump or the Constitution.

“There is no middle on defending our nation anymore,” he added in a tweet.

Trump in a statement on Sunday pointed to a congressional effort to reform the Electoral College Act as proof that Pence “did have the right to change the outcome” of the 2020 presidential election.

The former president said Pence “unfortunately” did not “exercise that power,” adding “he could have overturned the Election!” 

Pence’s role in overseeing the certification of the Electoral College vote was, as it is for all vice presidents, largely ceremonial. He presided over a joint session of Congress on January 6 where he recognized GOP senators and House members who objected to the results to the voting count in specific states. That set up votes by the House and Senate to consider the objections.

Trump has long argued falsely that Pence had more power over the process and the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6 did so thinking they could end the

The former president’s statement comes as the congressional effort to reform the Electoral College Act is picking up momentum, with some lawmakers seeing changes to the archaic law as a compromise between both parties on election reform; which Democrats have been pushing for on the federal level in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

The Electoral College Act was enacted in 1887 and outlines how the Electoral College results are counted. A bipartisan group of senators met last week to discuss changes to the statute.

Research contact: @thehill

Trump calls GOP senator a ‘jerk’ after he rejects former president’s false claims of pervasive election fraud

January 11, 2022

Former president Donald Trump lashed out on Monday, January 10, at Senator Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota)—calling him a “jerk,” a day after the GOP senator said on Sunday that the 2020 election was “as fair as we have seen” and dismissed Trump’s widely debunked allegations of extensive voter fraud, reports The Washington Post.

Speaking to ABC’s “This Week” on January 9, Rounds said that Trump’s claims that fraud rigged the election for Democrat Joe Biden are baseless and that conspiracy theories asserting the 2020 election was stolen from the former president are unfounded.

“We looked at over 60 different accusations made in multiple states,” Rounds said. “While there were some irregularities, there were none of the irregularities which would have risen to the point where they would have changed the vote outcome in a single state.”

He added, “The election was fair, as fair as we have seen.” Republicans, Rounds said, “simply did not win the election.”

“Moving forward—and that’s the way we want to look at this—moving forward, we have to refocus once again on what it’s going to take to win the presidency,” he said.

In a statement Monday, Trump doubled down on his false allegations of voter fraud, accused Rounds of being a RINO—“Republican In Name Only—and said he would never endorse the South Dakota Republican again. Rounds doesn’t face a reelection race until 2026.

“Is he crazy or just stupid?” Trump asked of Rounds. “The only reason he did this is because he got my endorsement and easily won his state in 2020; so now he thinks he has time—and those are the only ones, the weak, who will break away. Even though his election will not be coming up for five years, I will never endorse this jerk again.”

Rounds, Trump added, is a “weak and ineffective leader” who, along with Democrats, is not making it easy “for our Country to succeed.”

A spokesperson for Rounds didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the ABC News interview, Rounds—who voted to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial last year—didn’t rule out supporting him if he runs for president again in 2024, saying he would “take a hard look at it.”

Rounds also said Trump could still be prosecuted if the Justice Department were justified in doing so.

“Every single person who is accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty. We all know that. The same thing with the former president,” Rounds said. “So, if they think they have got that, they can bring the evidence forward. In my opinion, they haven’t done that yet. And it’s going to be up to them to make that case. But that shield of the presidency does not exist for someone who is a former president.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Attorney General Merrick Garland vows to pursue January 6 inquiry ‘at any level’

January 7, 2022

In remarks delivered one day before the first anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot, Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized a commitment to the rule of law and to following the facts wherever they lead, reports The New York Times.

Facing criticism from Democrats and a few Republicans to hold former President Donald J. Trump accountable for his role in inspiring the riot at the Capitol. Garland vowed on Wednesday that the Justice Department would pursue wrongdoing “at any level,” saying he would defend democratic institutions from attack and threats of violence.

Speaking at Department of Justice headquarters, Garland said:

As we prepare to mark a solemn anniversary tomorrow, it is a fitting time to reaffirm that we at the Department of Justice will do everything in our power to defend the American people and American democracy. The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead. We understand that there are questions about how long the investigation will take and about what exactly we are doing. As long as it takes and whatever it takes for justice to be done consistent with the facts and the law. I understand that this may not be the answer some are looking for.

The attorney general also obliquely addressed critics who have urged him to disclose more about the department’s inquiry, including whether investigators are scrutinizing Trump.

He reiterated that the department would not share details about its findings, even as investigators have issued 5,000 subpoenas and search warrants, inspected over 20,000 hours of video footage and sifted through an estimated 15 terabytes of data. “I understand that this may not be the answer some are looking for,” he said. “But we will and we must speak through our work. Anything else jeopardizes the viability of our investigations and the civil liberties of our citizens.”

While the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack has signaled an openness to making a criminal referral to the department if it comes across evidence that Trump or others broke the law, Garland did not mention Trump or any specific investigation the department might be pursuing.

Garland has never given any substantive public indication of whether or how aggressively the department might be building a case against Trump or his advisers, and it is not clear what charges they could be subject to.

Some Democrats have openly pushed Garland to make clear that he intends to act.

Research contact: @nytimes

Biden plans forceful push for voting rights

December 17, 2021

The White House wants to mark the new year with a forceful push for voting rights—portraying the protection of the ballot as a battle for democracy itself. But despite a renewed emphasis from an increasingly impatient and frustrated base, prospects for legislative success still look grim, reports Politico.

West Wing aides believe that fresh federal efforts to defend the ballot and install safeguards ahead of the midterm elections are likely to be dashed by some Democrats’ resistance to changing the Senate filibuster—a reluctance that has been spearheaded for months by Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).

The White House has been considering connecting the voting rights drive with the upcoming first anniversary of the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, making the case that the most sacred tenant of America’s democracy remains under siege one year after the insurrection fueled by the election fraud lies told by former President Donald Trump.

To strongly make that case, the president and his team had been hoping to clear the legislative deck by the January 6 anniversary. But the president’s social spending bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, appears stalled for the foreseeable future in the Senate, with Manchin’s refusal to commit to the $1.75 trillion legislation seemingly certain to push the measure into early 2022.

According to Politico, Biden signaled on Wednesday, December 14, that he’d be fine with prioritizing election reform for the time being, saying: “If we can get the congressional voting rights done, we should do it. … There’s nothing domestically more important than voting rights.” But, previously, White House aides had consistently signaled that they wanted the social spending bill first and voting rights second.

That sequencing has irked some of the president’s most fervent supporters, who fear he may get neither.

“The time is now. The urgency could not be more palpable than it is now,” said the  Reverand Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network and a Biden confidant, who, like others, argued that voting rights should have been the Administration’s top priority in the wake of the moves by nearly 20 Republican-led legislatures to tighten state election laws.

“An inaction at this point would lead to an inaction of Black voters. People are saying, ‘If they don’t do this, I’m not voting,’” the civil rights leader said. “People are saying they feel betrayed.”

Echoing the sentiment of a growing number of Democrats who feel that Biden has simply not placed the defense of voting rights and elections at the center of his presidency, Sharpton said activists are now targeting Martin Luther King Jr. Day  on January 18 as an unofficial deadline for at least showing some real progress on voting rights. He and other activists plan to ramp up their criticisms of Democrats—with potential threats to refrain from campaigning ahead of the midterms—if action is not taken.

“I don’t want to become too dramatic,” said Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri), “but voting rights may be the only thing we have to at least halt the trek away from democracy.”

While the full scale of what the White House is planning remains unclear, Biden is expected to deliver a speech connecting the day to the defense of the ballot, aides said.

But aides also recognize that a full-court press on voting rights—even if good politics—would be doomed to fail without a change to the filibuster. And they are skeptical that they can bring reluctant Democrats on board for such changes.

While Manchin has said he is open to reforming the chamber’s rules in a bipartisan manner, he does not support nuking the legislative filibuster.

Other Democrats are losing patience, however. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia) delivered a passionate speech from the Senate floor this week pushing Democrats to act on voting rights—noting that the Senate just scrapped a 60-vote threshold to pass a debt ceiling hike. Represenhtative Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina), who has been in touch with Warnock, said he believes Democrats are “in a good place with the voting rights bill,” though it’s “not the timeline that I would want.”

“I don’t want it to be constrained by trying to do it before the end of the year. I don’t know that you have to do it before the end of the year,” Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House and a close Biden ally, said in an interview. “I just want us to get a bill done that will help preserve this democracy because if we don’t, I think we’ve lost this democracy.”

Research contact: @politico

House’s January 6 Select Committee subpoenas Roger Stone and Alex Jones

November 24, 2021

The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is charging ahead with subpoenas on some longtime denizens of Trump World: InfoWars head Alex Jones, self-described dirty trickster Roger Stone, and rally promoters Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence, reports Politico.

The committee is also subpoenaing former President Donald Trump’s current spokesperson, Taylor Budowich.

“The Select Committee is seeking information about the rallies and subsequent march to the Capitol that escalated into a violent mob attacking the Capitol and threatening our democracy,” Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) said in a statement. “We need to know who organized, planned, paid for, and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress.”

The panel demanded that all of its subpoena targets turn over relevant documents by December 6. Depositions were scheduled for them the following week.

Monday’s batch of subpoenas focuses on the funding and organization of rallies on January 5 and January 6, as well as the march from the rally at the Ellipse to the Capitol.

Jones and Stone gave speeches to Trump supporters on January 5, urging them to push back against the election results.

“I don’t know how this is all going to end, but if they want to fight, they better believe they’ve got one,” Jones told a crowd at Freedom Plaza in Washington the night before the attack, as PBS detailed.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Jones helped secure funding for the January 6 rally. Jones has said he tried to de-escalate the riot and stop people from breaking into the Capitol, the Journal added.

For Jones, the committee’s demand is just the latest in a series of legal issues. A court last week found him liable for defamation in a lawsuit brought by parents of children killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In August, a group of Capitol Police officers sued him and a host of other defendant—including Trump himself—alleging civil rights violations. The suit accused Stone of actively participating in “Trump’s strategy to disseminate false claims of election fraud,” and of helping popularize the #StopTheSteal slogan. A process server presented Stone with the lawsuit on September 15 while he was on a talk radio show.

“This is a big, big stack of papers, which is good because we’re out of toilet paper today,” Stone told the hosts.

He later called the suit “baseless, groundless, and unsubstantiated” in an email to CNN.

Stone said in a statement that he had not yet been served by the committee, nor had he seen the details of the information requested, but that he would determine his course of action after reviewing the requests with his lawyer.

“I have said time and time again that I had no advance knowledge of the events that took place at the Capitol on that day,” he said. “Any statement, claim, insinuation, or report alleging, or even implying, that I had any involvement in or knowledge, whether advance or contemporaneous, about the commission of any unlawful acts by any person or group in or around the U.S. Capitol or anywhere in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021, is categorically false.”

Research contact : @politico

U.S. judge seems set to reject Trump bid to block records requested by January 6 committee

November 8, 2021

A federal judge appeared ready to side y with Congress and the Biden White House on Thursday, November 4, against former president Donald Trump’s effort to block the release of hundreds of pages of White House records sought by a House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, reports The Washington Post.

U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan said she might curb some “unbelievably broad” requests for records about Trump’s activities and communications leading up to the attempt by rioting Trump supporters as lawmakers met to confirm the 2020 presidential election, such as polling and campaign communication dating to April.

But the judge indicated the power to assert executive privilege claimed by Trump to withhold the records from Congress ultimately rests with the current president, Joe Biden, who has waived privilege and approved their release. When a current and former president disagree, courts ought to defer to the incumbent, she suggested.

“Isn’t the person who is best able and in a position to determine the executive privilege, the executive?” Chutkan asked in a two-hour oral argument in federal court in Washington.

“It’s not a separation of powers fight [with Congress]. It may be a dispute between a former president and a current president . . . but . . . there’s only one executive,” the judge continued.

Chutkan pointed out that the SCOTUS July 2020 Mazars decision allowing the House to obtain Trump’s personal banking and accounting records for years before he took office applied to official records “that are quintessentially about government business.”

She expressed astonishment at the claim that Congress would not consider legislation after rioters breached the building believing Trump wanted them to vindicate his unfounded claims of fraud and overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“The January 6th riots happened in the Capitol—that is literally Congress’s house,” Chutkan said.

“Are you really saying that the president’s notes, talking points, and telephone conversations on January 6th, for example, have no relation to matters on which Congress is considering legislation?” Chutkan said, such as the integrity of federal elections, domestic security or the security of the Capitol.

“How are visitor logs which reveal who came to the White House on specific dates, how are those privileged?” she asked, or notes of who Trump was calling or speaking to “as people were breaking windows and climbing into the Capitol?”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Cheney drops bombshell—suggesting Trump ‘was personally involved in the planning of January 6th’

October 21, 2021

On Tuesday, October 19, Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) issued a blistering assessment of the decision by former President Donald Trump and ally Steve Bannon to stonewall the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attacks on the U.S. Capitol, reports Raw Story.

After dismantling Bannon’s claims that he is protected by executive privilege from testifying before the committee, Cheney speculated that Trump and Bannon have very personal reasons for not wanting any testimony to go forward.

“Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing, however: They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th,” she said. “And we will get to the bottom of that.”

Cheney also cited Bannon’s statements on January 5th in which he seemed to anticipate that violent mayhem would break out the next day as Congress worked to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” Bannon said.

Research contact: @RawStory