The commission of inquiry wants to question former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, his deputy Dan Scavino, and Pentagon official Kash Patel to find out what Trump was doing during the storm and whether he was involved in plans to run for Congress. disrupt by force. Also Steve Bannon, once political adviser to Trump and now host of the far-right podcast War Room, was summoned by the committee.
However, Trump has instructed them to ignore the commission’s appeal. He said the committee, which is made up of Democrats except for two Republicans, is out to “silence Trump, as well as our Make America Great Again movement, the greatest achievement of all time.”
Trump also opposes the release of all kinds of White House documents from that period. In doing so, he invokes the executive privilege, the president’s right to keep communications with his associates and advisers confidential.
However, it is questionable whether he can keep the requested documents out of the hands of the committee. President Joe Biden has now authorized the transfer of some of the documents, even though some people warn that the decision could later backfire on him. But according to White House spokesman Jen Psaki, Biden thinks it’s important that the bottom stone comes out about “this black day for democracy.”
Bannon has since announced through his lawyer that he does not intend to comply with the subpoena of the Commission of Inquiry, citing the principle of executive privilege. But he’s unlikely to be able to rely on that: He wasn’t employed by the White House or the Trump administration at the time.
As for the others, the matter is a little less clear. It’s all about how far it is executive privilege, which is not in the constitution, by the way. Can a president thus also keep secrets that are purely private and have nothing to do with his work as president?
No, argue the Democrats. The “Stop the Steal” demonstration that kicked off the storming of the Capitol was purely for Trump’s private interests: he insisted on staying on as president.
And when will he lose the privilege of keeping communications with his employees secret? The moment he leaves the White House is the general view. After that, his successor will decide what will or will not fall under the privilege, as Biden has now done by authorizing the release of presidential documents from Trump’s tenure.
It is certain that Trump will challenge that reasoning. He can refer to a 1977 Supreme Court ruling in which the Court recognized that President Nixon could still invoke the privilege after his forced resignation to guarantee his advisers that their confidential advice would not be exposed afterwards.
Most Democrats believe that the Commission of Inquiry should be tough on those who refuse to set an example. “There is no privilege that gives the president the right to keep a coup against the government secret,” Democratic Congressman and constitutional law specialist Jamie Raskin said. “That would be absurd.”
To force Trump’s associates to testify, the House of Representatives, now in Democratic hands, must request the Justice Department to initiate proceedings against the denials. Some say Trump and Republicans hope they can stretch the matter until next year’s Congressional elections are over. Now it looks like the Republicans will have a reasonable chance of retaking the House of Representatives from the Democrats.
If Republicans regain control of Congress, the entire investigation will be over. Even former Vice President Mike Pence, who had to be rushed to safety during the storming to avoid falling into the hands of Trump supporters who wanted to ‘hang him’, now finds all the fuss about January 6 ‘seriously exaggerated’.