The National Archives plans to release four pages of Trump-era White House documents to the House on Wednesday, in what appears to be the first time the committee that’s investigating the January 6 riot would get records that former President Donald Trump wants to keep secret.
The documents are set to go to the House committee at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, according to a court filing from the Archives, which holds all of the Trump White House records.
It’s not clear what those four pages include, and should they be turned over, it would be up to the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol to make them public.
Trump has previously asked the Supreme Court to block the release of hundreds of pages of records related to January 6, arguing the documents are protected by executive privilege. The Biden White House, however, supports releasing the records to the House select committee, after determining the disclosure is in the nation’s best interest and declining to assert executive privilege.
The Supreme Court has not yet acted, and in the absence of word from the high court the sides are sparring over whether the Biden administration is handling the documents’ release in good faith.
Trump’s legal team has ratcheted up its attacks of the Biden administration’s position on releasing the four pages. As the deadline neared on Wednesday, Trump’s team made public multiple letters to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals complaining of the plan.
One letter called the Archives’ decision “contemptuous behavior,” and the Archives’ choice to notify the court that four pages would be turned over an attempt to “prophylactically inoculate itself and its officers from contempt proceedings.”
In another court filing on Wednesday morning, the National Archives, represented by the Biden Justice Department, said it wasn’t intentionally misleading the court about its plan to turn over documents to the House, as Trump’s team had accused them of doing.
The Trump team, the Archives said, hadn’t done what’s needed in time to block the release of four pages being handed over.
“The release of certain records from tranche four – that Appellant has known for over a month would occur today – will not violate any order of any court. Indeed, that is presumably why Appellant has asked the Supreme Court to enjoin release of documents from that tranche. The Supreme Court, however, has not acted on that request,” lawyers for the administration wrote.
Even though Trump has not won in lower courts, the appellate court in DC has blocked the release of three tranches of documents pending action from the Supreme Court. The handful of pages the Archives is set to turn over Wednesday are part of a fourth tranche of records.
An attorney for Trump, Jesse Binnall, responded defiantly in court early Wednesday to the Archives’ plan to release four pages to the House.
He said Trump’s team would seek to hold the Biden administration in contempt of court if documents are turned over Wednesday.
The lawyer also wrote that Trump’s team believed the Biden administration was acting in bad faith.
He accused the administration of planning to hand over to the House duplicates of records that are were processed earlier and clearly part of Trump’s ongoing lawsuit before the Supreme Court, before Trump’s team stepped in. The Biden administration said in its filing yesterday those records would not be handed over, instead reducing the amount headed to the House from six to four pages.
“Under no circumstances should the government’s misconduct and attempt to create an ad hoc record be sanctioned by this Court,” Binnall wrote, according to the strongly worded filing. “The weighty issues being considered by the Supreme Court should be decided under the normal course, not by the government’s attempt to bypass a lawful injunction.”
The select committee is seeking more than 700 pages of disputed documents as it explores Trump’s role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election. That includes his appearance at a January 6 rally in which he directed followers to go to the US Capitol where lawmakers were set to certify the election results and “fight” for their county.
The documents include activity logs, schedules, speech notes and three pages of handwritten notes from then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows – paperwork that could reveal goings-on inside the West Wing as Trump supporters gathered in Washington and then overran the Capitol, disrupting the certification of the 2020 vote.
Trump is also seeking to keep secret a draft proclamation honoring two police officers who died in the siege and memos and other documents about supposed election fraud and efforts to overturn Trump’s loss of the presidency, the National Archives has said in court documents.
Broadly, the Trump White House records could answer some of the most closely guarded facts of what happened between Trump and other high-level officials, including those under siege on Capitol Hill on January 6.
This story has been updated with additional developments.