Efforts by Donald Trump to stymie the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol could allow his allies the legal standing necessary to evade accountability, according to a new report.
"From his faux Resolute Desk at Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump can still wield a wrecking ball that damages the congressional investigation of the insurrection—even if he loses his ongoing battle in the nation’s highest courts," The Daily Beast reported Wednesday.
Trump has referred to the select committee as the "crooked and highly partisan Unselect Committee of political hacks looking into the January 6th protest."
"Lawyers widely expect Trump will, indeed, fail at his attempt to assert 'residual' executive privilege to keep damning documents shielded from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. But constitutional scholars warn that judges appear poised to give him a slight opening that could severely delay congressional investigators and give resistant witnesses legal ammunition in their own court fights," The Beast reported. "The potential delays matter even more now that tight-lipped Trump loyalists are stacking up, with news in recent days that former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and ex-Assistant Attorney General Jeff Clark have put themselves on the same 'contempt of Congress' path of martyrdom as Steve Bannon for relying on the ghost of Trump’s executive privilege to defy subpoenas and refuse to testify."
READ: These are the documents Donald Trump doesn't want the House Jan. 6 panel to see: report
Attorney Kel McClanahan warned it appeared the three-judge appellate panel in the District of Columbia appears poised to try and build a legal "test" for balancing Trump's claims of executive privilege with Biden's efforts to get to the bottom of the Jan. 6 attack.
“They seemed to want to create a balancing test. It’s going to allow Trump to keep filing these lawsuits and keep delaying, delaying, delaying—all because the circuit may not say that there’s no way any former president could ever win," McClanahan explained. “If it isn’t shut down now, it’s going to play out in Bannon’s contempt trial, in motions to quash testimony."
On Nov. 9, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ruled "Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.” But that conclusion is being challenged in front of the appellate court.
Jonathan David Shaub, a law professor at the University of Kentucky, explained how any "test" could delay the investigation.
READ: 'Flaccid little cry baby': Legal experts weigh in on Trump’s lawsuit to block Jan. 6 Committee
“Trump is certainly claiming this residuum of power that has no identifiable source,” Shaub said. “If the court goes down the road of having judges decide which claim is valid, then Bannon has a much more legitimate argument that he didn’t have to comply until a court decided whose claim is more viable. It gives credence to this idea that there’s some question about who has the authority to allow Bannon or Meadows to testify.”
“If the judges say that this is a presidential authority that belongs to the current president, then… Bannon and Meadows have much less of a claim,” Shaub added.