As a result, the committee won’t be getting hundreds of pages of National Security Council records. But the documents may not have been all that helpful, anyway.
The revelation comes in a new round of letters about the status of Trump-era documents held by the National Archives. It’s the first time the Biden administration appears to have pushed back significantly against the House select committee, as the National Archives works through thousands of pages of records from the Trump administration at the request of the House committee.
At least some of the House’s document requests appear to have gone too far, even for the Biden administration. Such a development isn’t out of the ordinary during a congressional inquiry into West Wing affairs, but it hadn’t emerged yet for the House select committee, which had been essentially aligned with the Biden White House on questions of access.
The curtailing of the House panel’s request, however, may not affect its core mission of understanding then-President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential vote and the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6. That’s because this latest round of documents over which Congress and the executive branch negotiated “appear to have no content that might be material to the Select Committee’s investigation,” the Biden White House said in a letter this month.
It said it wants to keep these records secret to preserve the confidentiality of discussions and advice around the presidency.
“President Biden recognizes that Congress has a compelling need, in service of its legislative functions, to understand the circumstances that led to the insurrection,” wrote Jonathan Su, a lawyer for the Biden White House. “The documents for which the Select Committee has agreed to withdraw or defer its request do not appear to bear on the White House’s preparations for or response to the events of January 6, or on efforts to overturn the election or otherwise obstruct the peaceful transfer of power.”
The House is still seeking — and the Biden administration is willing to release — more than 700 pages of crucial Trump White House records documenting Trump’s and top advisers’ discussions, phone calls and visits up to and on January 6.
But Trump filed a lawsuit to block their release and continues to claim that several hundred pages should be kept private, under his assertions of executive privilege. He is asking the Supreme Court to hear his case, after losing at two lower courts.
Before this month, the National Archives had processed and weighed the positions of Trump and of the current White House on at least four separate collections of documents. As the review of records continued at the archives, the Biden administration in recent weeks looked at 511 pages from the National Security Council during Trump’s presidency, as the House committee has been seeking a broad swath of documents from the former President’s time in office.
“The Select Committee has agreed to withdraw or defer its request for a significant portion of those records,” White House counsel Dana Remus wrote to the archives on December 17.