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Former US President Donald Trump. Source: USA Today Network via Reuters.
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  • Former US President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday, claiming the committee investigating the January 6 attack made an illegal request for his White House records
  • The lawsuit asserts that the materials sought are covered by a legal doctrine known as executive privilege, which protects the confidentiality of some communications
  • But many legal experts have said Trump, as former president, cannot lawfully use executive privilege to block the request
  • The committee has also issued subpoenas demanding testimony from a range of Trump allies, including political strategist Steve Bannon

Former US President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday against the United States congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, claiming it made an illegal request for his White House records.

Filed in US District Court for the District of Columbia, the lawsuit asserts that materials sought by the House of Representatives’ January 6 Select Committee are covered by a legal doctrine known as executive privilege, which protects the confidentiality of some communications between White House officials.

“The Committee’s requests are unprecedented in their breadth and scope and are untethered from any legitimate legislative purpose,” Jesse Binnall, a lawyer for Trump, wrote in the lawsuit.

Still, many legal experts have said Trump, as former president, cannot lawfully use executive privilege to block the requests for documents and testimony.

More than 600 people now face criminal charges stemming from the attack, which saw a mob of Trump supporters storm the seat of Congress in an attempt to stop lawmakers from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House on a charge of inciting the attack in an incendiary speech at a rally earlier the same day but was ultimately acquitted by the Senate.

Earlier this month, Biden authorised the National Archives — a government agency that holds records from Trump’s time in office — to hand over an initial batch of documents requested by the committee.

The agency said it would turn over the documents next month, according to Trump’s lawsuit, which is seeking an injunction to halt the process.

According to Michael Stern, a former congressional lawyer, Trump’s strategy could be to use litigation to stall the committee’s work.

“If he is willing to pay for the lawyers, Trump could delay the production of records for some time,” he said.

The committee has also issued subpoenas demanding testimony from Trump advisers, including political strategist Steve Bannon. Mr Bannon, however, has refused to provide testimony until Trump’s assertion of executive privilege has been resolved by a court or through negotiations with the committee.

Nevertheless, the committee said last week it would ask the US Department of Justice to bring criminal charges against Bannon due to his defiance.

Other officials to be subpoenaed include former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and former Defense Department official Kash Patel.

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