A federal judge on Tuesday rejected former President Donald Trump‘s attempt to block a bipartisan House select committee from obtaining White House records as part of its investigation of the deadly Capitol invasion.
Judge Tanya Chutkan stated in a court order, that Trump is “unlikely” to succeed on the merits or suffer irreparable injury and that “a balance between the equities & public interest bear against” his request.
Trump appeals the ruling to U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit.
Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., praised Chutkan’s ruling, saying in a statement that it “affirms the importance of the Select Committee’s work to get answers for the American people, recommend changes to the law to strengthen our democracy, and help ensure nothing like the attack of January 6th ever happens again. “
Chutkan’s order came less than one day after she shot down an emergency bid by Trump’s lawyer to stop the National Archives from giving documents to the congressional probe of the Jan. 6 attack.
Trump in mid-October had sued to block the select committee’s request for the archivist of the United States to hand over reams of Trump administration records. Jesse Binnall, Trump’s attorney, argued that many of the documents sought are protected by executive privilege. This doctrine allows certain executive branch dealings to remain confidential. The lawsuit was filed after President Joe Biden refused executive privilege over documents that Trump claimed were protected.
Chutkan’s opinion Tuesday night said she agreed with the select committee’s argument that, in disputes about executive privilege, the current president’s stance matters more than that of his or her predecessor.
“At bottom, this is a dispute between a former and incumbent President,” Chutkan wrote in a 39-page opinion. “And the Supreme Court already stated that in such circumstances, it is the incumbent’s view that is given greater weight. “
Trump’s view “appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power ‘exists in perpetuity,'” Chutkan wrote. “But presidents are not kings and Plaintiff is not President. “
” The court holds that Plaintiff’s claim of privilege is outweighed “by President Biden’s decision to not uphold the privilege,” Chutkan wrote. He vowed not to interfere in the executive branch’s function.
Binnall had accused the select committee members of seeking to “harass” the former president through a “vexatious, illegal fishing expedition.” It also attacked President Joe Biden for refusing Trump’s privilege claims and accusing him of using a “political maneuver to accommodate his partisan allies.” The select committee is charged with investigating the causes and facts of the Jan. 6th invasion. This was when hundreds of Trump supporters stormed Capitol forcing a joint session to leave their chambers.
The committee requested that the National Archives share a wide variety of White House documents. This included communications regarding strategies to alter Biden’s Electoral College win.
Chutkan’s opinion said that while the records requests are broad, they do not exceed the committee’s legislative powers.
Subpoenas have been issued by the House panel for testimony from a growing number of Trump’s close associates. The House last month voted to hold former top Trump advisor Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with the subpoena the committee had issued to him.
On Monday the panel announced six additional subpoenas for Trump’s allies ,, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign advisor Jason Miller, as well as John Eastman, a lawyer.
A day later, the same panel unveiled 10 more subpoenas to Trump associates including former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, former senior advisor Stephen Miller and former White House personnel director John McEntee. Binnall requested Chutkan to issue an emergency injunction preventing the National Archives from disclosing the disputed records on Monday night. Binnall stated that David Ferriero, the archivist, will deliver the documents to the select committee by Friday.
Trump’s attorney informed Chutkan that if Trump does not block the request of the committee, she will “promptly” file an appeal. Binnall suggested that Chutkan issue an emergency injunction to allow the appellate court to review it.
The lawyer, referring to Thursday’s Veterans Day holiday, said to Chutkan that Trump would “interpret” the Court’s silence to be a refusal and appeal to the D.C. Circuit.
” If injunctive relief has been refused, the National Archives and Records Administration (NAROA) will produce records before the judicial review is complete and President Trump has had an opportunity to be fully and fairly listened to,” Binnall wrote in his request for an emergency injunction.
Chutkan denied the request on procedural grounds shortly before midnight Tuesday, calling it “premature” without a court order.