A day before the House committee investigating January’s Capitol rioters was set to vote on whether or not to recommend criminal contempt charges against former Trump adviser Steve Bannon Tuesday, the former president filed a lawsuit to block the release of documents related to the riots. The lawsuit challenges current President Joe Biden’s decision to waive executive privilege on the documents.
In the lawsuit, Trump said the committee’s request for documents was “almost limitless in scope”. He claimed the committee sought records that weren’t connected to the riots, calling the request a “vexatious, illegal fishing expedition” that was “untethered from any legitimate legislative purpose”.
Trump’s challenge goes beyond the documents. It seeks to invalidate the entirety of the congressional request, calling it overly broad, unduly burdensome and a challenge to the separation of powers.
“The former president’s clear objective is to stop the Select Committee from getting to the facts about January 6th and his lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our probe,” committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and committee Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney said in a joint statement late Monday. “It’s hard to imagine a more compelling public interest than trying to get answers about an attack on our democracy and an attempt to overturn the results of an election.”
The lawsuit was expected, as Trump has repeatedly made clear that he will challenge the investigation. In addition to the lawsuit, Trump’s lawyer has argued Bannon should not disclose information because it is protected by the privilege of the former president’s office. Bannon defied a subpoena for him to testify, leading to Tuesday’s contempt vote.
In a resolution released Monday, the committee asserts Bannon has no legal standing to rebuff the committee because he was a private citizen when he spoke to Trump ahead of the riots.
“Mr. Bannon appears to have played a multi-faceted role in the events of Jan. 6th, and the American people are entitled to hear his first-hand testimony regarding his actions,” the committee wrote in the resolution.