President Biden has rejected former President Trump’s bid to keep the Jan. 6 committee from getting its hands on White House visitor logs.
Trump had tried to claim executive privilege over the logs, including those from the day of the Capitol attack, but White House Counsel Dana Remus wrote that the National Archives must give the committee the logs within 15 days due to the “in light of the urgency” of the committee’s work, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
Remus notes in the letter, which will be delivered to Trump on Wednesday, that the records in question comprise “entries in visitor logs showing appointment information for individuals who were processed to enter the White House complex, including on Jan. 6, 2021,” but it is unclear how well these records were kept. The Times reported last week that the Jan. 6 committee had discovered gaps in the White House call logs from the day of the attack, and that records do not exist of some of the calls the committee knows Trump was making.
Trump over the course of his time in office kept White House visitor logs from the seeing the light of day, his administration citing “grave national security risks.” Remus writes that, for the most part, Biden “voluntarily discloses such visitor logs on a monthly basis,” and that most of the records Trump is trying to shield from the committee would be released publicly under Biden’s policy. She notes that the committee has agreed to keep records labeled “national-security sensitive” or “otherwise-highly sensitive” confidential to the committee, and that they will not be shared or discussed outside the committee “without prior consultation.”
The letter from Remus isn’t the first time the Biden administration has stymied Trump’s efforts to keep his circle’s activity on Jan. 6 shrouded in secrecy. The administration last October rejected Trump’s effort to prevent the committee from obtaining official White House documents, over which Trump also tried to claim executive privilege. “These are unique and extraordinary circumstances,” Remus wrote at the time. “Congress is examining an assault on our Constitution and democratic institutions provoked and fanned by those sworn to protect them, and the conduct under investigation extends far beyond typical deliberations concerning the proper discharge of the President’s constitutional responsibilities.”
The move resulted in a protracted legal battle, which Trump eventually lost. It’s unclear whether Trump will again try to use the courts to keep the White House visitor logs secret, but it’s certainly not unlikely.