'He's no longer in control': Reporter says Trump's Capitol riot committee lawsuit reeks of panic
Donald Trump. (Screenshot)

Former President Donald Trump testified in a lawsuit Monday, but when it comes to subpoenas involving the House Jan. 6 Select Committee, he's blocking any access to information, interviews, or witnesses who worked for him.

Monday afternoon, Trump's team announced they were suing the Capitol riot committee to block its subpoenas.

Trump's lawyers argue that the subpoenas are "almost limitless in scope," and that the committee wants records that have nothing to do with Jan. 6. The committee, however, has said that they are looking not only at Jan. 6 but the organizational efforts that led to the riots, as well as Trump's work to gin up anger ahead of Jan. 6 that led to the violence.

Discussing the lawsuit, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace seized on the comments in Trump's statement saying that the laws don't "permit such an impulsive, egregious action against a former president and his close advisors."

"And I thought back to scenes from your book," Wallace said to Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig. "The vice president is refusing to leave [the Capitol]. How much fear is there from the ex-president that this probe may be the one to turn his White House inside out?"

Leonnig agreed with the word "fear," noting that it's clear the Trump camp is afraid of this specific committee and investigation.

"I can't speak for the former president, but in that camp — about the fact that he's no longer in control," she said. "He's no longer the person who has the power to have definitively defined whether or not there's executive privilege that shields these documents from public review."

She said that just from reading the language in the public records laws on the books, "the presidential records law, in this case, it's clear that the sitting president and the recently former president have a right to review and question whether or not these documents can be shared. But it's also clear, under the executive order that governs this, that the sitting president has the preeminence and that you're not allowed to decide how the records law applies to you. For example, in this suit, President Trump says -- former President Trump says he wants to see all the records that are sought before he agrees, whether or not they should be shared. Well, that's not what the rules are. He says he wants to challenge everything about this request, but this is a special request for Congress to be able to see these, not for public release immediately, but for Congress and its fact-finding mission to see those records and thus far, every single part of that law has been followed."

Trump's lawyers have seen the records, she said, and they already know what will and won't be shared.

"As you point out, if the president, the former president, is so sure that nothing bad happened, and he was not engaged in anything inappropriate, then he should be able to see from the records he personally has reviewed already whether or not there's a problem," said Leonnig. "And I don't think executive privilege is the issue."

Harry Litman, a former deputy attorney general, wondered if there was something to trigger Trump recently into filing the lawsuit.

"Under the legal scheme, the archivist of the United States, someone no one's ever heard of, David Ferrero, gave him 30 days notice last Wednesday and said, [President Joe] Biden has told me that there's no executive privilege here and as Carol says, that should be definitive," Litman said. "And I'm going to be turning it over. Here are your 30 days to look at it. He's determined that he's got to try to somehow stop the music and get the courts involved now before it gets turned over because once it's in Congress's hands, it's going to be too late."

Litman called it "a sort of desperate ploy that recycles arguments that already were lousy when he was president." He cited the claim that Congress is outside of its legislative function or that the executive privilege determination is somehow wrong.

"But the play here is to get it gummed up in the courts," said Litman.

See the full discussion below:

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