IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trump’s pretend presidency is losing power — and he knows it

As he tries to claim executive privilege, Trump is learning true presidential power can’t be mimicked.

Donald Trump on Monday filed a lawsuit against Congress and the National Archives over turning over documents related to his actions and communications surrounding the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The suit reads like a tantrum from a man just now realizing he’s no longer in control of the executive branch. 

Trump has behaved like a pseudo-president since leaving office in January. He has scheduled rallies as he did while in office, he’s claimed he was the true winner of last year’s election and he’s repeatedly told former staffers not to comply with the committee’s subpoenas. But Monday’s lawsuit reveals a crack in Trump’s facade of power — and he knows it.

“In a political ploy to accommodate his partisan allies, President Biden has refused to assert executive privilege over numerous clearly privileged documents requested by the committee,” Trump’s lawyers complained Monday. 

Image: Donald Trump looking away.
Donald Trump on Monday filed a lawsuit against Congress and the National Archives related to the Jan. 6 investigation.Douglas P. DeFelice / Getty Images

In a letter to the National Archives last week, White House counsel Dana Remus defended Biden’s refusal to claim privilege over the documents, saying they “bear on the Select Committee’s need to understand the facts underlying the most serious attack on the operations of the Federal Government since the Civil War.”

Trump’s lawsuit alleged the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has “decided to harass" the former president and his aides by "sending an illegal, unfounded, and overbroad records request to the Archivist of the United States.” 

However, it’s clearly not “illegal” for committees to submit document requests to the National Archives, and this particular committee’s request is founded on evidence that Trump and his allies communicated about the attack before and as it was underway. 

The committee’s chair, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, and vice chair, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, rebuked Trump’s lawsuit in a statement Monday: 

“The former President’s clear objective is to stop the Select Committee from getting to the facts about January 6th and his lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our probe. Precedent and law are on our side. Executive privilege is not absolute and President Biden has so far declined to invoke that privilege.”

The committee’s statement and its undeterred investigation are a reminder to Trump that despite his efforts to play president even while out of office, the true powers of the executive are awesome and inimitable.

Related stories:

The dangerous argument at the heart of the Ahmaud Arbery case

The most outspoken league in sports just put Texas in its crosshairs

Critical race theory is urgently necessary. Just look at this Tennessee county.

Head over to The ReidOut Blog for more.