Trump Seeks Broadest Privilege To Hide Precisely What He Was Doing On 1/6

Late last week, the DC Court of Appeals granted ex-president Trump a limited injunction on the district court’s ruling against executive privilege as applied to those records sought by the Select House Committee.  Now, according to USA Today, we know that the documents that Trump most wants to protect include handwritten notes about Jan. 6, appointments for White House visitors, and switchboard logs, including those that show calls between Trump and former vice president Mike Pence, reported USA Today.

One need not be a MENSA member to understand that these documents likely reveal the most information as to both Trump’s precise actions on  January 6th, such as preparations made beforehand, expectations for the day, and who else may have been involved in either a plan from the White House or the lack of a plan and action once the riots began, including decisions to keep forces from doing anything to stop the riots.

From the report:

“Of the 763 pages in which Trump asserted privilege, 629 are talking points prepared for the press secretary and 43 include presidential schedules, appointments, activity logs, call logs, among other documents, according to the filing from the National Archives.”

Obviously, presidential schedules, appointments, activities, and call logs would reveal both Trump’s level of possible prior awareness of the growing problem, concern about what was happening in real-time, and, perhaps most importantly, provide a list of people the Select Committee might subpoena to find out exactly what Trump said and did throughout the day.

The National Archives identified nearly 1,600 pages of records that fit the committee’s request, with thousands more yet to be reviewed, according to the agency. Trump sought to keep nearly half the pages confidential, but the Justice Department replied that they are crucial to the investigation.

Therein lies the clash. The documents deemed most necessary to committee’s work are the very same documents that touch upon Trump himself. Trump’s argument before the court would be that he (and those appearing in any documents) most fundamentally touch upon the executive function.  The Committee’s request, purposely, seeks that information that most likely fits whatever narrow definition a court might draw. The district court did not draw any limits.

The documents sought are scheduled to come out in batches and, at first, glance, appear to chronologically follow those most critical to least, The first set of documents includes daily presidential diaries, schedules, activity logs, and first drafts of speeches, records a reasonable person would deem the type to provide the broadest information and that most useful to the committee. 

The committee needs speedy rulings as much as the rulings themselves. There are likely ways to get a generalized picture of any specific information contained within the documents sought, but such efforts would take much longer and require more sophisticated means to obtain.

For now, with respect to the specific documents in question, the committee is in a race against time and must know if it can get that information directly, or develop the “go-around” strategies that may prove necessary.

The few indications that exist so far lead observers to believe that the appellate court recognizes the need for a highly expedited process.