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Biden orders Trump White House visitor logs to be turned over to Jan. 6 committee

President Donald Trump holds up copies of news articles in the White House briefing room in July 2020. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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President Biden has ordered visitor logs from the White House during President Donald Trump’s tenure to be turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — an order the National Archives said Wednesday that it would carry out by March 3.

The former president claimed that the logs were subject to executive privilege. In a letter Tuesday, a White House lawyer rejected the claim, saying the National Archives should provide the records within 15 days to the House committee.

“The President has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified, as to these records and portions of records,” White House counsel Dana Remus said in the letter.

The letter was first reported by the New York Times. A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

In a letter to Trump on Wednesday, David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States, informed the former president that he would deliver the documents requested by the Jan. 6 committee on March 3 “unless prohibited by court order.” Ferriero said he was doing so after consultation with Remus, the Justice Department and “as instructed by President Biden.”

It was not immediately clear what the records would show or how meticulously they were maintained. The Jan. 6 committee has been trying to reconstruct what Trump and senior White House officials did on the day of the attack by a pro-Trump mob as Congress was meeting to count the electoral college votes that cemented Biden’s victory.

In her letter, Remus said that “the records in question are entries in visitor logs showing appointment information for individuals who were processed to enter the White House complex, including on January 6, 2021.”

After slamming Hillary Clinton’s handling of government documents, Republicans have been less vocal about former president Donald Trump’s handling of documents. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

Trump will keep list of White House visitors secret

Early in Trump’s tenure, the White House announced that it would not follow President Barack Obama’s policy of voluntarily disclosing the names of most visitors to the White House complex. The Trump White House cited “grave national security risks and privacy concerns.”

Biden resumed the practice after taking office, voluntarily disclosing visitor logs on a monthly basis, with some exceptions.

“The majority of the entries over which the former President has asserted executive privilege would be publicly released under current policy,” Remus said in the letter.

Remus said Biden was ordering the content of the logs to be turned over within 15 days because of “the urgency of the Select Committee’s need for the information.”

Last year, Biden rejected a similar claim of executive privilege by Trump regarding other White House documents sought by the Jan. 6 committee. Trump unsuccessfully sought to block the release of those records in court.

It was not immediately known whether Trump would turn to the courts again regarding Biden’s latest decision.

In her letter, Remus noted that the Jan. 6 committee had agreed to take several steps to maintain the confidentiality of “national-security sensitive” White House visits and to protect certain personal information of visitors, such as Social Security numbers.

Jacqueline Alemany contributed to this report.