A source familiar with the former president’s legal strategy confirms to CNN that a lawyer for Trump has sent letters to some of the subpoena targets, informing them of his plan to defend executive privilege. The letters were first reported by Politico.
“Executive privilege will be upheld, not only on behalf of President Trump and his administration, but also on behalf of the office of the President of the United States and the future of our nation,” Taylor Budowich, communications director for Save America and Trump, said in a statement.
While the letter asked the targets of the subpoena not to comply with congressional investigators, according to the Post, it is up to each witness to decide whether to follow Trump’s instructions.
Patel, in a statement to CNN on Thursday, did not confirm whether he had received a letter from Trump’s attorney or how he planned to respond to the subpoena, but said: “I will continue to speak the truth to the American people about January 6, and I’m making our country and our freedoms a priority through my Fight with Kash initiative. “
The California Democrat added that the truth “is what we want, and clearly (Trump) has a problem with us getting to the truth, which is why he is mounting a campaign of continued pressure on those people he encourages to do not cooperate “.
So far, the question of how the claims of privilege will play out has given rise to a chicken game.
This summer, Trump and his legal team called on Biden’s White House to assert privilege when former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and other former senior Justice Department officials testified before the Judicial Committee of the Senate on the events that took place before the January 6 attack. But Trump did not seek to intervene when Biden relinquished the privilege and current Justice Department leaders paved the way for testimony from former officials.
Instead, Trump’s attorney Doug Collins suggested to Fox News that Trump would take a different approach when it comes to White House officials – a strategy he could use in the current round of summons. to appear. Collins said in a letter this summer that the former president could claim the privilege later, if the House pushed too far.
Yet some attorneys representing witnesses in the Jan.6 inquest say that by allowing Rosen and others to testify without a battle of privilege, Trump’s ground for protecting information has already receded.
When he left the administration, Trump identified several high-level advisers to work with the National Archives, which holds his presidential papers. Post-Watergate-era law allows former presidents to have a say in what they want to keep protected in their presidential records and also allows Biden White House’s board office to weigh in.
But the archives have been records of slow processes, and it is not yet clear what topics will be banned and where the White House Biden and Trump will differ.
Previously, Trump had barred former White House officials from testifying on Capitol Hill by claiming they had absolute immunity. The subpoenas were then derailed by court cases.
Trump did not say whether he would attempt the same tactic again – or whether the claims of privilege could be raised question by question.
But without the power of the Justice Department or the White House behind it, it’s unclear how the struggle for privilege will play out now.
This story was updated with additional information on Thursday.