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A new lawsuit by the ex-president and a move to hold Stephen Bannon in contempt of Congress are raising untested issues about secrecy powers.
WASHINGTON — Former President Donald J. Trump’s power to keep information from his White House secret became a central issue this week in the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by his supporters, raising untested legal issues about executive privilege.
On Monday, Mr. Trump sued the chairman of the House’s Jan. 6 committee and the head of the National Archives, in an attempt to block Congress from accessing White House papers that could reveal his actions and communications leading up to and during the riot. The select committee is expected to vote on Tuesday to recommend holding Stephen K. Bannon, an outside adviser to Mr. Trump, in contempt for defying a subpoena.
It is a power claimed by presidents under the Constitution to prevent the other two branches of government from gaining access to certain internal executive branch information, especially confidential communications involving the president or among his top aides.
While the Constitution does not mention this secrecy power, the Supreme Court has recognized it as implicit in the founding charter. The idea is that fear of future disclosure could impair presidents’ ability to perform their constitutional duties by chilling the candor of deliberations and the advice they receive.
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