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Court filing reveals Jan. 6 docs Trump wants to hide from Congress

One of the lingering questions is what kind of Jan. 6 documents Donald Trump is so eager to keep from Congress. Now we know.

When the bipartisan House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack requested extensive materials from the White House, Donald Trump reacted predictably — by demanding absolute secrecy.

In fact, the former president and his team have tried to exert "executive privilege" to block the select committee's requests. As NBC News recently noted, as a matter of tradition, sitting presidents have shielded White House materials at the request of their predecessors.

But not this time. President Joe Biden and his team recently concluded that there are "unique and extraordinary circumstances" surrounding the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol, and the Democratic White House has twice rejected Trump's demands for secrecy.

As we've discussed, with these decisions, the White House has given the National Archives the green light to release materials to Congress, which in turn has led to a legal dispute.

One of the lingering questions that's been difficult to answer is what kind of documents Trump is so eager to keep under wraps. As the New York Times reported, the answer became clearer over the weekend:

Former President Donald J. Trump is seeking to block from release a wide range of documents related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the National Archives said Saturday in an early-morning federal court filing detailing what Mr. Trump is fighting to keep secret. In the filing, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, John Laster, the director of the National Archives' presidential materials division, laid out for the first time exactly which documents Mr. Trump was asserting executive privilege over.

Part of what's striking about the revelations is the sheer volume of the materials the former president is so eager to hide. This isn't a situation in which Team Trump is generally comfortable with some disclosures, while expressing concern about a handful of particularly sensitive documents; this is a situation which Team Trump seems awfully nervous about several hundred pages of documents.

According to the Times' reporting, the list from the National Archives includes:

  • Records from Mark Meadows, Stephen Miller, and former White House Deputy Counsel Patrick Philbin
  • The White House Daily Diary, which includes the president's movements, calls, and meetings
  • Phone logs, including calls between Trump and then-Vice President Mike Pence concerning Jan. 6
  • Proposed talking points for former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
  • A handwritten note concerning Jan. 6
  • A draft text of Trump's pre-riot speech
  • A draft proclamation honoring the Capitol Police
  • A memo about potential anti-election litigation
  • A series of emails from a state official regarding election-related issues
  • Talking points on alleged election irregularities in one Michigan county

It's worth emphasizing that at this point, Saturday morning's court filing revealed the list of materials, but not the contents of the materials. In other words, we now know that Trump wants to hide phone logs detailing calls between Trump and Pence about the Jan. 6 attack, but it isn't clear precisely what's included in these call records.

The next step, of course, would be to see the calls themselves, which would presumably shed light on why the former president doesn't want Congress to see the materials.

For what it's worth, Trump's litigation is not expected to succeed. As a recent NBC News report added, we may very well see "a legal showdown between the current and former president over executive privilege," though the Republican "faces long legal odds" since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that the incumbent president "is in the best position to assess the present and future needs of the Executive Branch."

Watch this space.