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Capitol inquiry granted more Trump records

Donald Trump January 6
The committee is trying to establish what Trump did while thousands of his supporters attacked police Photo: Getty
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US President Joe Biden has authorised the release of a new tranche of records from Donald Trump’s presidency to the congressional committee probing last year’s deadly attack on the US Capitol.

In a government letter released on Wednesday, US National Archivist David Ferriero said Mr Biden had declined to use a presidential power known as executive privilege to keep the Trump records confidential.

The letter is consistent with Mr Biden’s earlier statements it is in the country’s best interests for Congress to obtain Trump White House records relating to the events of January 6, 2021.

Mr Ferriero’s letter said the US National Archives will deliver the latest batch of records to the committee on April 28.

The letter did not say what types of records would be transmitted, but the committee has previously obtained speech drafts, call and visitor logs, handwritten notes and other files.

The National Archives, a federal agency that maintains presidential records, has already turned over hundreds of pages of documents to the House of Representatives Select Committee investigating the attack.

Trump and his allies have waged an ongoing legal battle seeking to block access to documents and witnesses.

The former president has sought to invoke executive privilege, which protects the confidentiality of some internal White House communications.

The US Supreme Court in January rejected a request by Trump to block the release of a tranche of White House records sought by the congressional panel.

Only one of the court’s nine members, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, publicly noted disagreement with the decision.

The committee has said it needs the records to understand any role Mr Trump may have played in fomenting the violence that unfolded when his supporters stormed the Capitol in a failed bid to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory.

One of those supporters, an Ohio man charged with stealing a coat rack during the insurrection, testified in court on Wednesday that he joined thousands of protesters in ransacking the Capitol on what he thought were orders from then-president Trump.

Dustin Byron Thompson, 38, of Columbus, Ohio, said he took to websites after being laid off from his exterminator job in March 2020, and in his pandemic doldrums fell under Trump’s sway as he bought into conspiracy theories and “went down the rabbit hole on the internet”.

“It seems like everyone was attacking him (Trump). He needed someone to stand up for him, and I was trying to do that,” Mr Thompson, who claimed he removed the coat rack to prevent others using it as a weapon, said.

“If the president is giving you almost an order to do something, I felt obligated to do that.”

Mr Thompson’s jury trial is the third among hundreds of Capitol riot prosecutions. The first two ended with jurors convicting both defendants on all counts.

Mr Thompson’s defence team is the first to argue Mr Trump and those connected to him were responsible for the actions of the mob that day.

– AAP