Posts tagged with "Former president"

Biden orders lawmaker access to Trump’s White House visitor logs for January 6

February 17, 2022

President Joe Biden has directed the National Archives to release to Congress former President Donald Trump’s White House visitor logs for January 6—rejecting his predecessor’s claims that the logs are subject to executive privilege, reports Bloomberg. 

“The president has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified, as to these records and portions of records,” White House Counsel Dana Remus wrote in a February 15 letter to David Ferriero, the national archivist of the United States.

Remus directed Ferriero to turn over the records within 15 days of providing notice to Trump, barring a court order. 

“The majority of the entries over which the former president has asserted executive privilege would be publicly released under current policy,” she said.

The panel probing the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has requested logs for White House visitors on that and other days, as well as other Trump-era records. 

A spokesperson for the committee had no immediate comment Wednesday. A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court last month rejected Trump’s bid to block the release of records to the January 6 panel—a victory for the committee and its Democratic chairman, Bennie Thompson. In addition to the visitor logs, the investigative committee has requested all photographs, videos, and other media; including any digital time stamps, taken or recorded within the White House that day.

Trump sought to override Biden’s earlier decision to waive executive privilege and argued that a former president’s need for privacy can outweigh the views of the current chief executive.

The committee has been focusing on the false claims that Trump and his allies pushed about the election outcome and how that played roles in stoking the violence on January 6, 2021. Trump’s lawyers argued that the release “would be a substantial blow to the institution of the presidency.”

In an unsigned, one-paragraph order, the high court said the case didn’t offer the opportunity to decide that question because a lower court found that Trump’s claim would be rejected even if he were still in office. Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative, was the only dissent.

The committee agreed to treat entries associated with sensitive appointments, including those related to national security, as confidential and to refrain from sharing or discussing them without prior consultation, Remus wrote. The committee also will receive the records without birth dates or social security numbers.

Research contact: @Bloomberg

National Archives had to retrieve Trump White House records from Mar-a-Lago

Feebraury 8, 2022

Former President Donald Trump improperly removed multiple boxes from the White House, which were retrieved by the National Archives and Records Administration last month from his Mar-a-Lago residence because they contained documents and other items that should have been turned over to the agency, according to three people familiar with the visit.

Indeed, The Washington Post reports, the recovery of the boxes from Trump’s Florida resort raises new concerns about his adherence to the Presidential Records Act—which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.

Trump advisers deny any nefarious intent and say that the boxes contained mementos, gifts, letters from world leaders and other correspondence. The items included correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which Trump once described as “love letters,” as well as a letter left for his successor by President Barack Obama, according to two people familiar with the contents.

Discussions between the Archives and the former president’s lawyers that began last year resulted in the transfer of the records in January, according to one person familiar with the conversations. Another person familiar with the materials said Trump advisers discussed what had to be returned in December. People familiar with the transfer, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal details.

The Archives declined to comment. A spokesperson for the former president did not respond to a request for comment.

According to the Post, the Archives has struggled to cope with a president who flouted document retention requirements and frequently ripped up official documents, leaving hundreds of pages taped back together—or some that arrived at the Archives still in pieces. Some damaged documents were among those turned over to the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

“The only way that a president can really be held accountable long term is to preserve a record about who said what, who did what, what policies were encouraged or adopted, and that is such an important part of the long-term scope of accountability—beyond just elections and campaigns,” presidential historian Lindsay Chervinsky said.

From a national security perspective, Chervinsky added, if records and documents are not disclosed, “that could pose a real concern if the next administration is flying blind without that information.”

The recovery of documents from Trump’s Florida estate is just the latest example of what records personnel described as chronic difficulties in preserving records during the Trump era—the most challenging since Richard Nixon sought to block disclosure of official records, including White House tapes.

All recent administrations have had some Presidential Records Act violations, most often involving the use of unofficial email and telephone accounts. White House documents from multiple administrations also have been retrieved by the Archives after a president has left office.

But personnel familiar with recent administrations said the Trump era stands apart in the scale of the records retrieved from Mar-a-Lago. One person familiar with the transfer characterized it as “out of the ordinary …. NARA has never had that kind of volume transfer after the fact like this.”

“Things that are national security-sensitive, or very clearly government documents, should have been a part of a first sweep—so the fact that it’s been this long doesn’t reflect well on [Trump],” said a lawyer who worked in the White House Counsel’s Office under Obama. “Why has it taken for a year for these boxes to get there? And are there more boxes?”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

National Archives to hand over Pence’s vice presidential records to January 6 Committee

Febraury 3, 2022

The Biden Administration has ordered the National Archives to turn over records from former Vice President Mike Pence’s time in office,  despite objections from former President Donald Trump, reports The Hill.

A letter dated Tuesday, February 1, from White House Deputy Counsel Dana Remus directed the agency to begin releasing the documents to the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

“Many of the records as to which the former President has made a claim of privilege in this set of documents …were communications concerning the former Vice President’s responsibilities as President of the Senate in certifying the vote of presidential electors on January 6, 2021,” Remus wrote.

Although vice presidential records do qualify for some public records exemptions that restrict access, “they are not subject to claims of the presidential communications privilege,” she wrote.

The letter from Remus follows a January 18 letter from Trump seeking to block the release of more than 100 of the documents. In the letter, Trump claimed the documents would violate executive privilege as well as another privilege that covers deliberative processes.

Remus has consistently ordered the release of various Trump-era documents, noting that President Joe Biden, the sitting commander-in-chief, has not asserted any privilege over the records.

The order to release the records comes as a growing number of former Pence aides are cooperating with the committee and sitting for interviews with investigators.

Greg Jacob, counsel to Pence who opposed plans to have Pence buck his ceremonial duties to certify the election results, met with the committee on Tuesday, February 1. And former Pence Chief of Staff Mark Short testified before the House panel last week.

Research contact: @thehill

Biden leads Trump, DeSantis by similar margins in new poll

January 28, 2022

President Joe Biden is leading two top Republicans—former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis—in two hypothetical, head-to-head match-ups for the 2024 presidential election, reports The Hill

A poll just conducted by Marquette University Law School has found that 43% of U.S. adults would support Biden if the 2024 presidential election were held today, while 33% would vote for Trump in a one-on-one match-up. Sixteen percent said they would choose a different candidate, while 6 percent said they would not vote.

In a hypothetical race against DeSantis, however, Biden does not poll as strongly: 41%t of adults nationwide said they would throw their support behind Biden, while 33% would support DeSantis. Eighteen percent of respondents said they would vote for a different candidate, and 8 percent said they would not cast a ballot.

Only 29% of those polled said they want to see Trump run for president again in 2024, while 71% said they did not want to see him seek a second term.

The polling comes as tensions between Trump and DeSantis are mounting amid a possibility that the two GOP figures could face off against one another in a Republican primary to lead the ticket in 2024.

Trump has been grumbling behind the scenes for months regarding DeSantis’s rise in the party. Recent media reports have taken a microscope to the relationship between the two GOP leaders—one that has been characterized as confrontational and marked by private but personal attacks.

The former president appeared to knock DeSantis earlier this month for refusing to disclose if he has received his COVID-19 booster shot. Trump, during an interview, criticized “gutless” politicians who will not reveal their booster shot status.

Trump and DeSantis have not revealed if they will launch bids for the White House in 2024. Additionally, the Florida governor has refused to say publicly whether he will or will not challenge the former president should he wage a reelection campaign.

A Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey shared with The Hill earlier this week found that, in a hypothetical eight-person GOP primary, Trump raked in 57% support, followed by DeSantis at 11% and former Vice President Mike Pence at 11%. No other candidate in the poll pulled in double-digit support.

Biden in December said he plans to run for reelection “if I’m in good health.”

A Wednesday poll from Politico and Morning Consult found that 45% of registered voters would support Biden if the election were held today, and 44% would support Trump—which would make for a tight rematch. Eleven percent said they would not vote.

The Marquette Law School poll surveyed 1,000 adults nationwide between January 10 and January 21.

Research contact: @thehill

WaPo offers five takeaways from Biden’s forceful January 6 takedown of Trump

January 10, 2022

About a month after the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection and with impeachment suddenly in the rearview, President Joe Biden signaled he was “tired” of talking about Donald Trump. A month later, he responded to a question about the former president by sarcastically saying he missed “my predecessor.”

Indeed, Biden largely has avoided mentioning Trump in the following months, reports The Washington Post.

However, on the anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot on Thursday, Biden made a huge exception. He delivered a muscular speech aimed at repudiating the former president, whose hold on the Republican Party has proved as strong as ever; according to the Post, as well as the allies who fomented and excused the Capitol riot.

Below are the Post’s takeaways from Biden’s speech.

The Trump focus

Biden’s intention to make his speech not just about the rioters, but also about Trump, was evident from the first minute of his brief speech and continued throughout. After praising those who withstood the attack and marking the somber occasion, Biden almost immediately linked the attack to Trump—and did so repeatedly, with a palpable anger in his voice.

“For the first time in our history, the president had not just lost an election; he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol,” Biden said. “But they failed. They failed.”

Biden added later: “He has done what no president in American history—the history of this country—has ever, ever done: He refused to accept the results of an election and the will of the American people.”

Then Biden went after Trump’s delayed response.

“What did we not see?” Biden said. “We didn’t see a former president who had just rallied the mob to attack, sitting in the private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House, watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours as police were assaulted, lives at risk, the nation’s capital under siege.”

Not just targeting—but goading Trump

Much of Biden’s speech seemed aimed at not just criticizing but also goading Trump. He referred to Trump’s “bruised ego” over losing the 2020 election.

 He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest and America’s interest, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution,” Biden said.

Biden also referenced the 81 million people who voted for him—a seeming reference to Trump and his allies’ regular invocations of the 74 million people who voted for Trump, and the idea that not further scrutinizing Trump’s baseless voter-fraud claims was tantamount to disregarding those voters.

Biden also pointed to those who might otherwise be allies who clearly didn’t back up Trump’s claims. “He can’t accept he lost, even though that’s what 93 United States senators, his own attorney general, his own vice president, governors and state officials in every battleground state—have all said he lost,” Biden said. “That’s what 81 million of you did, as you voted for a new way forward.”

Biden punctuated it all toward the end of his speech by labeling Trump what Trump fears perhaps most of all—a loser. “He was just looking for an excuse, a pretext to cover for the truth: that he’s not just a former president; he’s a defeated former president,” Biden said, emphasizing “defeated” and then repeating it—“defeated by a margin of over 7 million of your votes in a full and free and fair election.”

A recognition that being passive doesn’t work

Biden’s speech might have been for a special occasion, but it also seemed to mark a recognition that Trump is going nowhere, and one can’t pretend otherwise.

At the same time, it echoed previous rebukes of Trump, in that Biden avoided saying his name. There was a word curiously missing from Biden’s remarks: “Trump.” [Biden explained afterwards that he avoided politicizing the speech.]

Throughout the speech, Biden merely cited the “former president”—at least 16 times in a little over ten minutes—as if speaking his name was tantamount to legitimizing him, or that something would happen a la saying “Voldemort.”

The undersold rebuke

According to the Post, toward the end, Biden referred to something that hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention: the implicit GOP idea that the presidential election was somehow stolen, but not other races.

In fact, a few days before January 6, this comparison was pushed by none other than Republican Representative Chip Roy (Texas), who had been Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) former chief of staff. If the election results were suspect, Roy argued, why wouldn’t his fellow Republicans have objected to the seating of members who were elected on the same ballots? So Roy forced a vote, and all but two Republicans voted to seat the members.

What happens now

The question in the aftermath of Biden’s speech is what it means. Was this just about reminding people of an assault on democracy—one day only—or was it about spurring further action?

Democrats have pushed for revamping the nation’s voting laws, citing Republican efforts to rewrite them in the states, but that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Democrats have also shunned GOP leaders’ suggestions that the two sides could meet in the middle, by reviewing the Electoral Count Act that Trump sought to exploit January 6. Democrats have suggested this is a wholly insufficient step.

An alternate political explanation is that Biden understands his agenda probably isn’t going anywhere. That argument suggests that voters must be reminded of what happened in 2020 ahead of the 2022 election—when Democrats’ majorities are severely imperiled—and perhaps ahead of a potential 2024 rematch with Trump (or another Democrat running against Trump).

When the calendar turns to an election year, after all, the Post notes, legislation tends to grind to a halt, and those concerns take precedence. Biden’s goading of Trump certainly doesn’t discount this theory.

Either way, though, it’s a significant entry in the long-standing fight over democracy. And it was the most significant entry on that front from Biden to date.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Nunes quits Congress for Trump Media job

December 8, 2021

Representative Devin Nunes (R-California)—a close ally of former President Donald Trump and the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee—has announced that he will resign from Congress later this month in order to run Trump’s new social media company, reports Politico.

Nunes—a ten-term Congressman first elected in 2002—ascended to chair the Intelligence Committee in 2015. But he recused himself temporarily from an inquiry into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election while the Ethics Committee examined his handling of the committee’s investigation.

He is not leaving totally on his own steam: While the independent commission charged with redrawing California’s congressional map is still completing its work, an early draft tilted Nunes’ Central Valley district toward Democrats—potentially complicating his path to reelection.

The Palm Beach-based Trump Media & Technology Group said in a statement on Monday, December 6, that Nunes would become CEO of the company in January.

“The time has come to reopen the Internet and allow for the free flow of ideas and expression without censorship,” Nunes said in the statement. “The United States of America made the dream of the Internet a reality and it will be an American company that restores the dream.”

While Trump’s fledgling media company makes a logical landing spot for Nunes given his closeness with the former president—and their shared animosity toward the mainstream media—Trump’s media entity also is facing legal headwinds. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority are scrutinizing a special purpose acquisition company working with Trump Media & Technology Group.

According to Politico “In choosing not to remain in Congress, Nunes is achieving on his own terms what California Democrats could not in multiple well-funded attempts to unseat him. A Republican representing California’s agriculture-dominated Central Valley, Nunes has become a primary campaign target for Democrats, given Nunes’ loyalty to Trump.”

Democrats seeking to unseat Nunes have raised millions of dollars in past cycles — much of it from out of state, underscoring the broader fervor for toppling Nunes. But the lawmaker handily turned back those attempts.

Nunes’ pending resignation will set up two elections next year: a special election for the remainder of his term under the old district lines, and the regular election under the new lines for the next Congress beginning in 2023.

Research contact: @politico

WaPo bombshell: Trump exposed 500 people to COVID and kept it secret from close staff

December 7, 2021

The Washington Post has a stunning bombshell out in which it details the seven days from which former President Donald Trump first tested positive for COVID to when he announced his positive test and then hospitalization later that Friday, October 1, reports The Political Flare.

Trump announced his positive COVID test at 1 a.m. (ET) October 1—and by 6 p.m. that same day, he was struggling to walk into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Thus, Political Flare notes, “No one should ever have believed that he didn’t know long before the 1st.”

When he first learned he had tested positive for the coronavirus, President Donald Trump was already aboard Air Force One September 26, en route to a massive rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania. With him on the plane that Saturday evening were dozens of people—senior aides, Air Force One personnel, junior staffers, journalists and other members of the large entourage typical for a presidential trip — all squeezed together in the recirculating air of a jetliner.

“Stop the president,” White House physician Sean Conley told Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, according to a new book by Meadows set to publish on Tuesday, December 7, that was obtained by the Guardian newspaper. “He just tested positive for COVID.”

But Meadows asserts in his book that it was too late to stop Trump and that a second rapid antigen test —apparently done using the same sample—came back negative. But under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump should have taken a more accurate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm whether he had the coronavirus.

 On Wednesday, during the rally, Hope Hicks, a top Trump aide and close confidante, had started feeling sick. By the time she boarded Air Force One, she discreetly self-quarantined, exiting the plane from the rear entrance when it touched down just after midnight.

Indeed, on the return trip home, Trump ventured back to the press cabin—unmasked—where he spoke with the media for roughly ten minutes.

Political Flare argues, “Everyone knows Trump wasn’t a big “mask” guy, but one has to read the details to truly appreciate his recklessness and lack of care about others.”

During the next few days, he met Amy Coney-Barrett and her family in a reception with Pence and other top staff—all maskless—and he met with all of the members of the Gold Star families.

The Rose Garden ceremony for Coney-Barrett would later become known as an apparent “superspreader event”, with more than a half dozen attendees testing positive for the coronavirus within the week —including Trump, his wife, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, Notre Dame President John Jenkins, and Republican Senators. Mike Lee (Utah) and Thom Tillis (North Carolina).

 Trump then went through all the debate prep and the debate while positive and Mark Meadows said that he knew something was wrong, Trump had dark blotches under his eyes.

Trump came in contact with roughly 55 people that Wednesday, according to The Post’s analysis.

One former senior administration official, speaking anonymously to share a candid opinion, remarked,“Everyone spent months trying to reconstruct the Rose Garden and it turns out it was good old Patient Zero, the president.”

 Research contact: @politicalflares