Former US President Trump wants to avoid having his former associates testify in a congressional investigation into the storming of the Capitol by his supporters. In a letter seen by The Associated Press, Trump writes to summoned witnesses that their conversations with the president were confidential.
The congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack summoned four of Trump’s direct aides to testify about Trump’s impact on the angry crowds who invaded Congress. They include former chief of staff Mark Meadows and outgoing adviser Steve Bannon.
The letter to those summoned states that their conversations with Trump fall within the scope of Executive Franchise, the freedom that each president is given to freely consult with advisors without fear of having to testify about this secret decision-making process.
Presidents of both parties in the past have invoked this right of nondisclosure: President Nixon, for example, tried unsuccessfully to keep recordings about Watergate secret, and President Obama refused to reveal details about a botched covert operation.
Whether Trump can actually take advantage of this principle in this case should become clear during the hearings. Incumbent President Biden has already announced that he does not want to take advantage of this right in connection with White House documents requested on January 6.
Schiff, a member of the Democratic committee, had already said that if the witnesses remained silent during the hearing, they could face charges of contempt of Congress. It remains unclear what the punishment will be; This will depend, in part, on the political will to take action.
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