The National Archives says it plans to release the White House records of former Vice President Mike Pence to the House Jan. 6 committee.
In a letter (pdf) to former President Donald Trump on Feb. 1, national archivist David Ferriero said he will deliver the records on March 3, barring any court intervention.
“After consultation with the Counsel to the President and the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, and as instructed by President Biden, I have determined to disclose to the [Jan. 6 Committee] the Vice Presidential records from our December 8, 2021, Notification that you identified as privileged in your letter of January 18, 2022,” Ferriero wrote.
He added that the National Archives is continuing to turn over vice presidential records that Trump hasn’t asserted privilege over.
This marks the first set of records related to Pence’s office cleared for release by the records agency following a request for them from the panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol. Pence hasn’t testified to the panel.
Trump, in a Jan. 18 letter (pdf) to Ferriero, had formally asserted executive privilege over a series of records he determined “contain information subject to executive privilege, including the presidential communications and deliberative process privileges.”
However, President Joe Biden’s administration didn’t affirm Trump’s assertions of privilege.
In a letter (pdf) on Feb. 1, White House counsel Dana Remus responded to a Jan. 18 request from Ferriero seeking Biden’s views regarding the release of the documents.
“In any event, to the extent any of the documents in question could be subject to a claim of executive privilege of any sort, including by the former President, President Biden has determined that an assertion of such a privilege is not justified and is not in the best interests of the United States,” she told Ferriero.
“The Supreme Court has recognized the authority of a former President, in certain circumstances, to assert claims of the presidential communications privilege, which encompasses certain communications made in connection with the President’s exercise of the responsibilities of his office.”
“Many of the records as to which the former President has made a claim of privilege in this set of documents, however, were communications concerning the former Vice President’s responsibilities as President of the Senate in certifying the vote of presidential electors on January 6, 2021.
“Although those records qualify as Vice-Presidential records under the Presidential Records Act and therefore are subject to the provisions of the Act concerning exceptions to restricted access, see 44 U.S.C. [Section] 2207, 2205, they are not subject to claims of the presidential communications privilege.”
Separately, the Supreme Court in January rejected Trump’s request to block the National Archives from releasing other records from his administration to the Jan. 6 committee, which is now starting to receive the records.
The National Archives had confirmed to news outlets that some of the documents in its possession had been ripped up by Trump during his time in office and needed to be reconstructed with tape by government officials.
“These were turned over to the National Archives at the end of the Trump administration, along with a number of torn-up records that had not been reconstructed by the White House,” the agency said in a statement.
The Jan. 6 panel has been criticized for its partisanship. It includes seven Democrats and two Republicans, Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who were among 10 GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach the former president in 2021.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) chose Kinzinger and Cheney after refusing to seat some Republican lawmakers who had been picked by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).