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UPDATE: Battle over executive privilege following conflicting Trump reports

Oct 07, 2021


Update (10/8/21): A day after the Senate Judiciary committee came out with a report on former President Donald Trump and the 2021 election, President Joe Biden announced he will not invoke executive privilege on to prevent the House committee investigating the Capitol riots from obtaining requested documents.

The committee asked for the documents back in August. They included communication within the White House under Trump and information about planning and funding for rallies held in Washington.

Trump lawyers had sought to talk block former Trump officials from testifying in front of the committee, citing executive privilege. In a letter to the Archivist of the United States, White House counsel Dana Remus writes Biden has determined that invoking executive privilege “is not in the best interests of the United States.”


Original Story (10/7/21): The Democratic-run Senate Judiciary Committee released a report Thursday that went into detail about the actions the committee says former President Donald Trump took to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The video above shows Sen. Dick Durbin discussing the vote.

“In attempting to enlist DOJ for personal, political purposes in an effort to maintain his hold on the White House, Trump grossly abused the power of the presidency,” the report read.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Former President Trump repeatedly asked DOJ leadership to endorse his claims that the election was stolen and assist his efforts to overturn the results.
  • Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows asked Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to initiate election fraud investigations on multiple occasions.
  • Trump allies with links to the “Stop the Steal” movement and the Jan. 6 Capitol riots participated in the pressure campaign against the DOJ.

“Prior to the 2020 general election, DOJ’s longstanding policy and practice was to avoid taking overt steps in election fraud investigations until after votes were certified,” the report read. “Then-Attorney General Barr weakened this decades-long policy shortly before and after the 2020 election.”

Meanwhile, in its own minority report, Senate Judiciary Republicans said Trump “did not use the Justice Department to overturn the election”.

“President Trump’s concerns centered on ‘legitimate complaints’ and ‘reports of crimes’ and how they impacted the American people and the electoral system,” the minority report read. “The public integrity section and election crimes branch were historically passive in their review of election- related allegations.”

The report also went into things committee Republicans say Trump did not do. This includes sending a draft letter recommending some states with reported voter irregularities hold a legislative session to choose different electors, as well as firing then acting AG Rosen or anyone at the DOJ or FBI.

“Witnesses testified that President Trump’s outreach to DOJ officials focused on making sure they were ‘aware of election fraud allegations and that they were doing their job to investigate them,” the report read. “President Trump told Rosen that he did not expect the DOJ to overturn the election.”

These reports come the same day The Associated Press reported that Trump intends to use his executive privilege in the Congressional investigation into the Capitol riots. This, according to letter sent by lawyers for Trump, one of which was received by a person who spoke to AP anonymously.

Sen. Dick Durbin: “This report, which we have brought to the attention of the public, as well as members of the (Senate Judiciary) Committee, obviously, went into detail as to what happened during that two-week period of time. It was an incredible moment, which most Americans didn’t even know was going on. We were a half-step away from a full-blown constitutional crisis.”

“The net result of it was a fateful day — I believe it was January 3rd of this year — when the President called (acting Attorney General Jeffrey) Rosen, (acting Deputy Attorney General Richard) O’Donohue, (Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey) Clark to the White House to pursue his effort to replace Rosen with Clark, a more complicit person in the process.

At that moment, two things happened which were significant: the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, dissented from the President’s position and said it was a ‘murder – suicide pact’ for him to engage in this.

Secondly, at that point, the eight leading officials in the Department of Justice all signed a letter, saying that they would resign en masse if there was a replacement of the Acting Attorney General by Mr. Clark.

The president hesitated and decided, at the very last minute, not to pursue that course: not to replace him.

That was significant, I’ll tell you, because, had it happened otherwise, it would have been a possibility that there would have been a contest on the election results.”

“What followed? We know what followed.

In a matter of three days, this President–, former President, desperate in his situation, having failed in every court case, having failed to take over the Department of Justice, decided to take his cause to the streets.

We saw it in the United States Capitol three days later on January 6th.

The President turned loose a mob, a mob that was supposed to stop us from counting the electoral votes and electoral ballots.

Now, most people say, ‘Well, we’ve heard most of this story before; so what’s the point of it?’

The point of it is that we were so close to a constitutional crisis at that moment, that it bears continued investigation and disclosure so the American people know that we should never be complacent when it comes to our rights as citizens and to our responsibilities to our constitution.

This President–, former President Trump would have shredded the Constitution to keep his office and the presidency.”