Last month, the Archives transferred a batch of Trump’s White House visitor logs to the committee. They also sent records from former Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump tried to block those official visitor lists from being remitted but President Joe Biden overrode Trump’s claim of privilege.
A Feb. 15 letter from Biden’s White House counsel, Dana Remus, noted that, “as a matter of policy and subject to limited exceptions,” both the Biden administration and the Obama administration voluntarily disclosed visitor logs each month.
“The majority of the entries over which the former President has asserted executive privilege would be publicly released under current policy,” Remus wrote. “As practice under that policy demonstrates, preserving the confidentiality of this type of record generally is not necessary to protect long-term institutional interests of the Executive Branch.”
That decision fell in line with rulings from several district courts and a significant decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court declined to take up Trump’s case to shroud some of his records on Feb. 22. No insight was offered by the court into its thinking.
But the refusal to hear the arguments at all meant that lower court rulings favoring transparency over Trump’s records as they pertain to the insurrection won the day—at least this time.
Trump is not out of the picture entirely; he could still sue to stop other transfers of other records he wants to keep hidden.
But as far as this latest batch headed to the Jan. 6 committee, the deadline for Trump to obtain an intervening court order to stop the transfer has long come and gone.
Clues about what is in this last tranche may be in another letter from Remus to the Archives. This one was sent on Feb. 1 and in it, Remus notes that while Biden will not uphold Trump’s assertion of privilege, “some of the documents in question involved litigation in which certain parties were represented by the Department of Justice.”
Oher documents were “communications concerning the former Vice President’s responsibilities as President of the Senate in certifying the vote of presidential electors on Jan. 6, 2021,” Remus wrote.
As a result, Remus suggested that production of those records be done in private and offered to have White House staff produce a complete list of what would be assessed.
The documents involving litigation could be tied to a lawsuit brought by Trump stalwart, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, in Dec. 2020.
Gohmert, joined by a group of Trump’s alternate electors, sued the former vice president in hopes of getting a federal court to overturn rules for how to count Electoral College Votes.
Gohmert argued that Pence alone had the authority to open and count the votes for states and if a competing slate existed, or if a single objection was aired, none of the electors' votes should be counted.
U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle, a Trump appointee, dismissed the lawsuit five days before the Capitol attack.
Kernodle threw the case out without touching Gohmert’s grievances over Pence’s role in certification. Neither did Kernodle address assertions Gohmert made about the constitutionality of the Electoral Count Act. Simply, Gohmert could not prove he was injured, and further, he and the alternate electors lacked standing.
Gohmert Dismissal by Daily Kos on Scribd
If the latest batch of documents heading over to the Jan. 6 committee does in fact include these records, it could prove quite useful to investigators.
They could potentially learn whether Gohmert’s decision to sue was one he reached of his own accord or if he was directed by someone else as part of a larger conspiracy.
Several legal attempts by Trump’s allies and lawyers had already been made by that point using near-identical arguments about Pence’s role or the Electoral Count Act to stop or delay the certification.
All had failed.
As for other sought-after records related to Pence, Daily Kos has not yet received another update on its FOIA request tied to official White House photos of the former Vice President from Jan. 6.
Daily Kos filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Archives on Jan. 20 seeking copies of photographs depicting Mike Pence, second lady Karen Pence, and their daughter Charlotte Pence Bond—as well as a handful of Pence’s staffers—in a “barren garage without windows or furniture,” ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl wrote in his book Betrayal.
The official White House photographer would not let Karl publish the photos for his book and Pence would not agree to have them released. Daily Kos has asked the Archives to provide not just copies of the photos but also any documentation memorializing that the Archives received them plus any documentation memorializing requests sent to the Archives by Pence or his agents seeking their removal from Archives’ possession.
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