President Joe Biden orders the release of Trump’s White House visitor logs

Feb 16, 2022: U.S. President Joe Biden is ordering the House Committee of Inquiry into the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riots to release Trump White House visitor logs, once again rejecting former President Donald Trump’s executive privileges.

The committee has requested a collection of data from the National Archives, including a presidential record that Trump fought to keep private. The records that are being released to Congress are visitor logs showing meeting information for those who entered the White House on the day of the riots.

White House counsel Dana Remus wrote, “The President 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 these records and portions of records,”

Remus, in the letter, said the logs of those who visited the White House before Trump left on January 20, 2021, should be handed over quickly “in light of the urgency” of the committee’s work and Congress’s “compelling need”.

The Presidential Records Act requires that records of the current president and his staff be preserved in the National Archives, and that the outgoing president is responsible for providing documents to the agency upon the expiry of their term. Trump tried earlier but failed to block White House documents from the House committee in a dispute decided by the Supreme Court.

The committee has been focusing on Trump’s actions since January 6, when he waited for hours to tell his supporters to stop the violence and leave the capital. Investigators are interested in organizing and financing Washington’s rally on the eve of the riots, when Trump called on supporters to “fight like hell.” The inquiry is also about how closely the organizers of the rally interacted with White House officials.

House investigators are searching for a link between the National Archives and Trump aides about the 15 boxes of records that the agency recovered from Trump at his Florida resort and are trying to determine what was in them.

White House call logs obtained so far by the House committee do not list calls made by Trump as he watched the violence unfold on television on January 6, nor do they list calls made directly to the president.

The lack of records about Trump’s personal calls is a particular challenge as the investigators work to discern what happened, what the then-president was doing in the White House as supporters violently beat police, broke into the Capitol and interrupted the congressional certification of Biden’s election victory.

There are several possible explanations for omissions in the records, Trump was known to use a personal mobile phone, or he could have had a phone passed to him by an aide.

Meanwhile, the committee is continuing to receive records from the National Archives and other sources, which could produce additional information.

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