January 6 panel stands down on request for some Trump documents after pushback from Biden administration
As a result, the committee won’t be getting hundreds of pages of National Security Council records. But the documents may not have been all that helpful, anyway.
The revelation comes in a new round of letters about the status of Trump-era documents held by the National Archives. It’s the first time the Biden administration appears to have pushed back significantly against the House select committee, as the National Archives works through thousands of pages of records from the Trump administration at the request of the House committee.
It said it wants to keep these records secret to preserve the confidentiality of discussions and advice around the presidency.
“President Biden recognizes that Congress has a compelling need, in service of its legislative functions, to understand the circumstances that led to the insurrection,” wrote Jonathan Su, a lawyer for the Biden White House. “The documents for which the Select Committee has agreed to withdraw or defer its request do not appear to bear on the White House’s preparations for or response to the events of January 6, or on efforts to overturn the election or otherwise obstruct the peaceful transfer of power.”
The House is still seeking — and the Biden administration is willing to release — more than 700 pages of crucial Trump White House records documenting Trump’s and top advisers’ discussions, phone calls and visits up to and on January 6.
Before this month, the National Archives had processed and weighed the positions of Trump and of the current White House on at least four separate collections of documents. As the review of records continued at the archives, the Biden administration in recent weeks looked at 511 pages from the National Security Council during Trump’s presidency, as the House committee has been seeking a broad swath of documents from the former President’s time in office.
The committee issued a statement later Tuesday, making clear that it wasn’t dropping parts of its pursuit.
“The Select Committee welcomes President Biden’s decision to clear the way for the production of another set of records,” a committee spokesperson said in the statement. “The committee has agreed to defer action on certain records as part of the accommodations process, as was the case with an earlier tranche of records. The Select Committee has not withdrawn its request for these records and will continue to engage with the executive branch to ensure the committee gets access to all the information relevant to our probe.”
Even so, the committee could face a drawn-out negotiation with the Biden administration if it does still push for access to national security records, either because of potential standoffs over executive privilege or issues related to classified or law-enforcement sensitive material, the White House suggested in its letter.
This story has been updated with a statement from the House select committee.
Fintech Zoom’s Annie Grayer contributed to this report.