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Congress poised to get Pence documents Trump tried to keep secret

Trump wanted to hide Pence materials from the Jan. 6 committee. The Biden White House, fortunately, said no.


The investigation into the Jan. 6 attack was already headed in directions Donald Trump didn't like. Yesterday, as NBC News reported, the former president received an update that made matters a bit worse.

The National Archives has informed former President Donald Trump that it will turn over records from former Vice President Mike Pence to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In a one-page letter, National Archivist David Ferriero said Tuesday that the agency will provide the congressional panel with "Vice Presidential records" that Trump is seeking to shield as privileged documents.

For those who may need a refresher about how we arrived at this point, it was in October when the bipartisan House committee requested extensive materials from the White House, prompting Trump to demand 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 White House counsel Dana Remus concluded that there were "unique and extraordinary circumstances" surrounding the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol.

Trump, who insisted he has "nothing to hide," nevertheless sued both the committee and the National Archives, demanding that the records be kept hidden from congressional investigators.

The Republican's case lost at every judicial level and the bipartisan House select committee started receiving materials from the Archives a couple of weeks ago.

That, however, was only the first round of document production. This next round — which Trump also tried to keep under wraps — specifically includes "communications concerning the former Vice President's responsibilities as President of the Senate in certifying the vote of presidential electors on January 6, 2021."

Given the partisan pressure put on Pence to overturn the election results, these materials are very likely to advance investigators' understanding of the larger scandal.

There is, however, a possible catch. This week's letter from Ferriero to Trump's legal team noted that without court intervention, he'll cooperate with the congressional request and provide the materials one month from today.

That matters because it raises the possibility of the former president's lawyers filing new litigation to stop, or at least delay, the document production.

In theory, this would be ridiculous: The matter has already been adjudicated, and Team Trump lost completely. But they may go through the motions anyway, knowing that failure is inevitable, if for no other reason than to give the Jan. 6 committee less time with the documents the former president would prefer to hide. Watch this space.