Why Debra Wall didn’t approve Donald Trump’s ‘protective’ claim of privilege

Donald Trump election 2020

President Joe Biden’s administration allowed the FBI to review over a dozen boxes holding classified documents that were obtained from former President Donald Trump’s estate earlier this year.

Acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall wrote an email to Trump attorney Evan Corcoran in May, which was obtained and released this week by JustTheNews, stating that the White House counsel’s office was “affirming a request from the Department of Justice supported by an FBI letterhead memorandum,” to “provide the FBI access to the 15 boxes for its review within seven days.”

Wall also rejected an argument by Trump’s legal team that the documents not be turned over to the FBI “until we have had the opportunity to review the documents and to consult with President Donald J. Trump so that he may personally make any decision to assert a claim of constitutionally based privilege,” saying that Supreme Court precedent “strongly suggests that a former President may not successfully assert executive privilege ‘against the very Executive Branch in whose name the privilege is invoked.'”


Wall noted that the Justice Department “has advised me that there is no precedent for an assertion of executive privilege by a former President against an incumbent President to prevent the latter from obtaining … Presidential records belonging to the Federal Government where ‘such records contain information that is needed for the conduct of current business of the incumbent President’s office and that is not otherwise available.'”

Wall continued: “I have therefore decided not to honor the former President’s ‘protective’ claim of privilege … The Counsel to the President has informed me that, in light of the particular circumstances presented here, President Biden defers to my determination, in consultation with the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, regarding whether or not I should uphold the former President’s purported ‘protective assertion of executive privilege.'”