Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House panel probing that Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by former President Donald Trump claiming executive privilege over documents related to the insurrection. File Photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI/Pool | License Photo
Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Former President Donald Trump on Monday filed a lawsuit against the House committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection in a bid to keep it from examining White House records related to the attack.
Trump's attorneys filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, naming the Jan. 6 panel's chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the National Archives and archivist David Ferriero as defendants.
It calls the investigation of the insurrection "a vexatious, illegal fishing expedition" and asks the court to declare the committee's entire request to be invalid, dismissing the effort as "a political ploy" orchestrated by President Joe Biden to "accommodate his partisan allies."
The suit also seeks to restrain the National Archives from turning over any materials to Congress in response to the request -- especially documents Trump has deemed to be covered by executive privilege.
The Jan. 6 committee's request from August to the National Archives seeks "all documents and communications within the White House on January 6, 2021," related to the pro-Trump rally, the march to the Capitol, violence at the Capitol, counting of electoral votes, from Trump, some of his allies, family and friends, along with some other members of the Trump administration.
Trump's attorneys have argued that documents related to a sitting president should be shielded from public oversight, but Biden this month rejected executive privilege for Trump's White House records.
White House counsel Dana Remus wrote in a letter to Ferriero that the Jan. 6 investigation was "unique and extraordinary," justifying the decision to reject the assertion of executive privilege.
"President Biden has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified as to any of the documents," Remus wrote.
In Monday's suit, Trump's lawyers reference the federal Presidential Records Act, which governs the availability of White House documents, arguing an untested theory that allowing a sitting president to overrule a former president on questions of executive privilege is unconstitutional.
"Today, President Donald J. Trump filed a lawsuit in defense of the Constitution, the Office of the President, and the future of our nation, all of which the sham Unselect Committee is trying to destroy," Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich said in a statement provided to Politico.
The Jan. 6 committee has issued subpoenas to Trump aides who are seen as unlikely to cooperate. The panel is scheduled Tuesday to vote on recommending a criminal contempt charge for former senior Trump advisor Steve Bannon over his refusal to comply with a subpoena.
Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police wipes away tears Tuesday as he testifies before members of the Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Pool Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo