The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection faces a potentially fatal roadblock: The committee wants to see a wide range of Executive Branch records and communications, presidential papers that could prove or disprove the reports that Donald Trump fully intended to undermine a fair election that he lost. And Trump, ever litigious, has vowed to go to court to stop the White House from sharing them.
Trump is a master of using the courts to his own advantage, particularly as a stalling tactic, and this move could pay off more than one way. Even if Trump’s constitutional claim of executive privilege over those papers completely fails — and it’s legally tenuous, at best — simply filing a lawsuit could delay things long enough to knock any disclosure into 2022 or beyond. By the time of any resolution, the Democrats may have lost Congress and the matter could simply vanish.
That means the select committee and the White House must think creatively — and do so now — to ensure they get full access to the information they need. Fortunately, there are at least two paths to this end: one running via the courts, and the other through Joe Biden’s office. Either approach will ensure Trump can’t use the legal process strategically to thwart the rule of law and will steer the probe away from the morass that so often dooms congressional oversight.
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