When in Doubt, Sue Everyone

Donald Trump’s Lawsuit Against the January 6 Select Committee and the National Archives

Penny Rabatsky, Contributing Writer

It’s really easy to try and get what you want when you declare the opposing view unconstitutional. Former President Donald Trump and his team are in the process of suing the House’s January 6 select committee and the National Archives in pursuit of what can only be described as yet another way to try and dismantle our democracy.

Trump’s presidency was full of him pushing boundaries to see how far he could go without facing real repercussions. Sure, he was impeached twice, but he was never removed. Therefore, he is still eligible to run for president again if he so chooses.

The goal of the House’s committee is “to investigate and report upon the facts, circumstances, and causes relating to the events of January 6, 2021, at the United States Capitol.”(Politico)

Only two Republicans – Liz Cheney and Adam Kingzinger – are on the select committee, though the initial goal was to have it be as bipartisan as possible. Cheney and Kingzinger both voted for Trump to be impeached in January. The reality is, Republicans who support Trump can’t be trusted when it comes to this. Donald Trump was impeached twice, once for trying to get an illegal edge over his opponent and the other for inciting a domestic terrorist attack, and most Republicans still believed he was fit to hold office.

Trump is declaring executive privilege as to why the documents detailing his conversations with lawyers and senior advisors between November 3, 2020 and January 20, 2021 should remain private. Executive privilege refers to a current president keeping documents and conversations with advisors concerning official business private from the public. The issue now is of a question that has never before been brought up: where does executive privilege stop for a past president? Trump is raising this question and trying to stall the efforts of the committee to come to a conclusion on their investigation.

Biden does not accept Trump’s reasoning of executive privilege, and has permitted the National Archives to release the first set of the documents to the committee. These are scheduled to be released in a month. The releasing of the other groups of documents will be dependent on the requests from the committee and the allowance of those to be released will be up for contemplation in the future.

The committee has already faced a problem with garnering evidence. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former Senior Advisor and Chief Strategist, ignored a subpoena and did not show up to testify before the committee. This resulted in the House voting 229-202 to hold Bannon in criminal contempt and sending this decision to the Department of Justice. Bannon now faces either jail time or fines depending on the decision of the Attorney General, Merrick Garland. Bannon stated that he would not testify until the debate over executive privilege has been addressed. So far, the other witnesses seem to be  cooperating, though Trump has told those that worked directly  in his administration to avoid following the subpoenas.

Right now, we are watching a war being waged in the legal system by Trump and his team to push more boundaries and make it harder for everyone to do their jobs. There was an insurrection where the Capitol building was not secure, the people inside were rightfully scared for their lives, and the mob outside became increasingly violent,threatening more and more violence. The committee needs to look into social media and what happens when radical individuals within the country take to it, as well as what is going on with the intelligence agencies’ in protecting the Capitol after receiving information regarding imminent danger to it. This seems like causation enough to warrant a committee, but the Trump team pushes back by saying that there is not enough of a reason, without specifying  what exactly makes this unconstitutional.

This whole situation reads like the boy who cried wolf. Trump keeps crying “unconstitutionally,” and according to the fable, that should reasonably cause people to stop believing him. However, this has gone in the opposite direction as Trump still has a huge base of supporters. (Keep in mind, Trump is still trying to convince Republicans that he won the 2020 presidential election.)

The news over the past few years has been full of conspiracy-theory propaganda that has been overly offensive and dangerous – and people actually believe it. But the point is, conspiracies have played a role in this lawsuit as well. Taylor Budowish, a spokesperson on Trump’s behalf, told Politico, “The fact is America is under assault by Pelosi’s Communist-style attempt to silence and destroy America First patriots through this hyper-partisan and illegitimate investigation.”

This all goes back to what Biden said the day of the insurrection: “The words of a president matter.” The words of any leader matter because people look up to and follow their leaders. That’s literally the point.

If the former president really has nothing to hide as he claims, why is he trying to interfere in the investigation? It was the same song and dance with Kavanaugh during that mess of a  trial. An investigation would prove Trump’s innocence if he is truly innocent. Obviously, he is not innocent, and this entire lawsuit is a waste of time and taxpayer money. The problem is that it’s going to be effective in stalling the investigation,making it increasingly difficult for the Jan 6 committee to get anything done. 

Trump is pressuring his former advisors to break the law and is pushing back against an investigation he sees as “rash” and “impulsive.” Then again, how long was a long enough time after the insurrection to open an investigation? Trump’s team has called this an “illegal fishing operation.” And the scariest part? It looks like Trump may run again in 2024.