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Trump Argues for Executive Privilege in Jan. 6 and Mar-a-Lago Inquiries

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Within the Jan. 6 investigation, the Justice Department has obtained grand jury subpoenas for several former aides to Mr. Trump searching for testimony about his conversations. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have instructed them not to reply questions, based on a broad conception of his residual powers of executive privilege, though Mr. Biden has rejected the concept as not in one of the best interests of the USA.

What to Know In regards to the Trump Investigations

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Quite a few inquiries. Since leaving office, former President Donald J. Trump has been facing several investigations into his business dealings and political activities. Here’s a take a look at some notable cases:

Jan. 6 investigations. In a series of public hearings, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack laid out a comprehensive narrative of Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. This evidence could allow federal prosecutors, who’re conducting a parallel criminal investigation, to indict Mr. Trump.

Georgia election interference case. Fani T. Willis, the Atlanta-area district attorney, has been leading a wide-ranging criminal investigation into the efforts of Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia. This case could pose essentially the most immediate legal peril for the previous president and his associates.

A dispute over whether those witnesses may lawfully decline to reply certain questions is now playing out before Beryl Howell, the chief judge of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, behind closed doors, in keeping with people accustomed to the matter.

Within the documents investigation, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have convinced a judge he appointed in November 2020, Aileen M. Cannon of the Southern District of Florida, to call a special master to oversee the vetting of some 11,000 documents and records the F.B.I. seized from his Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, in August.

Over the Justice Department’s objections, Judge Cannon ruled that Mr. Trump could make the case to the special master — and, ultimately, to her — that a few of the documents must be withheld from investigators under executive privilege. She rejected the department’s argument that Mr. Trump was entirely foreclosed from raising the privilege in these circumstances.

But Judge Cannon has also hedged, writing that Mr. Trump must have the power to invoke the privilege “as an initial matter” but in addition suggesting that any assertion on this context might ultimately fail. For its part, the Trump legal team has shied away from explaining why material covered by executive privilege could be off limits to investigators with the Justice Department, a component of the chief branch.

“Trump’s team has not been entirely clear in asserting their executive privilege claims of their early briefs,” said Michael Stern, a former counsel with the House Everlasting Select Committee on Intelligence who writes on issues involving investigations, national security and the law. “They’ve laid out a broad argument, but it surely stays to be seen how, exactly, they will make their case as these issues move as much as appellate courts.”

The special master Judge Cannon appointed, Judge Raymond J. Dearie, had instructed Mr. Trump’s lawyers to undergo the seized records and distinguish between those they think are merely shielded from disclosure to people outside the chief branch, which isn’t unusual, and people they think the chief branch itself supposedly cannot review, a far more radical proposition. He also wanted them to elucidate why for every document.

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