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White House denies executive privilege for former Trump advisers

01 March 2022 - 08:30 By Reuters
Trump has repeatedly blasted the committee's investigation and decried the November 2020 election, which he lost to Biden by more than 7 million ballots and by 74 votes in the Electoral College.
Trump has repeatedly blasted the committee's investigation and decried the November 2020 election, which he lost to Biden by more than 7 million ballots and by 74 votes in the Electoral College.
Image: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/ File photo

The White House said on Monday it is denying executive privilege to advisers of former President Donald Trump, whose testimony is being sought by a Congressional committee investigating the deadly January 6 2021 Capitol riot.

In letters dated February 28, a White House lawyer explained to former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro and to a lawyer for Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, that President Joe Biden had determined that executive privilege “is not in the national interest, and therefore is not justified” in certain matters before the committee.

Deputy White House counsel Jonathan C. Su wrote in separate letters regarding the two cases that the subjects where executive privilege did not apply included “events within the White House on or about January 6, 2021; attempts to use the Department of Justice to advance a false narrative that the 2020 election was tainted by widespread fraud; and other efforts to alter election results or obstruct the transfer of power.”

Navarro and a lawyer for Flynn did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the letters, first reported by Axios.

Trump has urged his associates not to co-operate with the committee, calling the Democratic-led investigation politically motivated and arguing that his communications are protected by executive privilege, though many legal experts have said that legal principle does not apply to former presidents.

On January 6, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to prevent Congress from formally certifying his 2020 presidential election loss to Biden. Shortly before the riot, Trump gave a speech to his supporters repeating his false claims that the election was stolen from him through fraud and urging them to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell”.

The committee issued a subpoena to Flynn in November, seeking testimony and documents about a “command centre” at Washington's Willard Hotel set up to steer efforts to deny Biden victory.

In the weeks after the election, Flynn urged Trump to deploy the military to overturn the results and gave speeches sowing doubts about the vote. In December, Flynn sued the congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack in hopes of blocking it from obtaining his phone records.

The committee announced this month it had subpoenaed Navarro, a key player in Trump's effort to overturn his election defeat.

The House of Representatives committee said it is seeking records and deposition testimony from Navarro who was involved in efforts to delay Congress' certification of the 2020 election.


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