US former President Trump wants to prevent his former employees from having to testify in a Congress investigation into the storming of the Capitol by his supporters. In a letter that AP news agency saw, Trump writes to witnesses who have been called that their talks with the president were confidential.
The Congressional Commission investigating the attack on January 6 has summoned four Trump direct employees to testify about Trumps influence on the furious masses that invaded Congress. Among them are former chief of staff Mark Meadows and the departed advisor Steve Bannon.
The letter to the summoned states that their conversations with Trump are under the executive privilege, the freedom each president gets to consult freely with advisers without fear of ever having to testify about that confidential decision-making.
Presidents of both sides have invoked this right of redress in the past: for example, President Nixon tried to keep recordings on Watergate a secret in vain, for example, President Obama did not want to disclose details of a failed undercover operation.
Whether Trump can indeed use this principle in this case will have to be shown during the hearings. Current President Biden had just announced that he did not want to use the law regarding requested White House documents on 6 January.
Democratic committee member Schiff has already announced that if the witnesses will remain silent during the hearing, they can be prosecuted for contempt of Congress. What sanction is still unclear; this will also depend on the political will to take action.