Former President Donald Trump spent much of his four-year term packing the federal court system, all the way up to the Supreme Court, with conservatives and strict constitutionalists as he worked to overturn laws protecting women’s abortion rights. But that very court system could soon turn into Trump’s nightmare as he attempts to block Congress from accessing presidential communications linked to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack is girding for a fight as it subpoenas former Trump advisers and administration officials while demanding access to White House communications at the time of the insurrection. Defiance could lead to criminal contempt charges. Trump is trying to assert executive privilege, which typically applies to current White House occupants but not necessarily to ex-presidents. President Joe Biden shows no inclination to extend any protections to someone who falsely insists, even today, that Biden stole the 2020 election.
Presidents assert executive privilege whenever another branch of government seeks access to documents or information that the sitting administration prefers not to reveal. Sometimes, it’s to protect state secrets or sensitive discussions with foreign governments. Other times, the president does it on principle: that no other branch has authority to tell the executive branch what to do.