The House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol is seeking records of the White House under Donald Trump administration. Phone records of several members of the Congress could also go under the scanner as the team reviews the attack by a mob of Trump supporters.
The committee, formed on July 1, is demanding a trove of records from federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The request made on Wednesday seeks information about events leading up to the January 6 riot. This may include the White House's communication records with other agencies and the information about planning and funding for rallies held in Washington.
Several GOP members and the former US President Donald Trump have objected this request. In a statement Wednesday evening, Trump accused the committee of violating “long-standing legal principles of privilege.”
“Executive privilege will be defended, not just on behalf of my Administration and the Patriots who worked beside me, but on behalf of the Office of the President of the United States and the future of our Nation,” Trump said.
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who had been in touch with Trump from the besieged Capitol on Jan. 6, again dismissed the committee's investigation as “so political.”
In a Fox News appearance Tuesday evening, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., whose phone records may also be sought, said it was “an abuse of power” to investigate lawmakers.
The demands are being made for White House records from the National Archives, along with material from the departments of Defense, Justice, Homeland Security and Interior, as well as the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The committee is also seeking information about efforts within the Trump administration to push the president’s claims of election fraud and any efforts to try to overturn the results of November’s election or to “impede the peaceful transfer of power.”
The request for the National Archives and Records Administration is 10 pages long. The committee is seeking "All documents and communications within the White House on January 6, 2021” related to Trump’s close advisers and family members, the rally at the Ellipse and Trump's Twitter feed. It asks for his specific movements on that day and communications, if any, from the White House Situation Room. Also sought are all documents related to the claims of election fraud, as well as Supreme Court decisions on the topic.
The requested documents are just the beginning of what is expected to be lengthy, partisan and rancorous investigation into how the mob was able to infiltrate the Capitol and disrupt the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory, inflicting the most serious assault on Congress in two centuries.
Most in the GOP argued that the majority-Democratic committee would conduct a partisan inquiry. House Democrats originally attempted to create an evenly split, independent commission to investigate the insurrection, but that effort fell short when it was blocked by Senate Republicans.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., is heading the committee, appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after all but two Republicans opposed the creation of the 13-person panel.
Thompson, in a written statement, said the committee's work was rooted in apolitical fact-finding.
"Our Constitution provides for a peaceful transfer of power and this investigation seeks to evaluate threats to that process, identify lessons learned and recommend laws, policies, procedures, rules, or regulations necessary to protect our republic in the future,” he said.
With inputs from the Associated Press