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World News24

World News24

Federal judge rejects Trump effort to block Jan. 6 docs

Posted on November 10 2021, 05:08am

Federal judge rejects Trump effort to block Jan. 6 docs

Washinton: A federal judge has denied former President Trump’s lawsuit that seeks to block the National Archives from handing over documents to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, prompting the former president to quickly appeal the ruling.

Trump sued the committee last month in an effort to block the National Archives from giving the investigative panel records relating to his time in office, including telephone records, visitor logs and other documents, citing executive privilege.

On Tuesday evening, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected that request, contending that President Biden is “best positioned” to determine if a former president’s request for executive privilege should be granted.

"Plaintiff does not acknowledge the deference owed to the incumbent President’s judgment. His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power 'exists in perpetuity,'" Chutkan, an Obama appointee, wrote in a 39-page opinion. "But Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President."

The Hill has reached out to Trump and the Jan. 6 committee for comment.

The National Archives was due to hand the documents over to the lawmakers on Friday. Trump's lawyers had vowed in a court filing this week to appeal by Wednesday, even if Chutkan had not ruled by then.

The case is unlikely to be settled with the judge's Tuesday decision. With many unsettled legal questions at issue in the case and Trump's sense of urgency amid the panel's investigation, it could head quickly to the Supreme Court.

A Trump spokesman said on Twitter that the former president will fight the decision.

"The battle to defend Executive Privilege for Presidents past, present & future—from its outset—was destined to be decided by the Appellate Courts," the spokesman, Taylor Budowich, wrote. "Pres. Trump remains committed to defending the Constitution & the Office of the Presidency, & will be seeing this process through."

Jan. 6 select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) praised the ruling, calling Trump's lawsuit "little more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our investigation." 

"The presidential records we requested from the National Archives are critical for understanding the terrible events of January 6th. Along our country’s history, the Executive Branch has provided Congress with testimony and information when it has been in the public interest. This evening’s ruling is consistent with that tradition," Thompson said.

Chutkan had signaled her skepticism of Trump's lawsuit during a hearing last week, questioning his lawyer's argument that the House lacked a valid legislative purpose behind the document request.

The judge said in her decision Tuesday that the lack of a dispute between the White House and the committee was a key factor underlying the decision.

"The legislative and executive branches believe the balance of equities and public interest are well served by the Select Committee’s inquiry," she wrote. "The court will not second guess the two branches of government that have historically negotiated their own solutions to congressional requests for presidential documents."

The panel is fighting on multiple fronts to further its investigation into what led to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

The House is awaiting the Department of Justice's decision on whether to charge former White House adviser Stephen Bannon with criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the committee.

The select committee is also weighing another criminal contempt referral for Jeffrey Clark, the former Trump Justice Department official who last week refused to answer questions about Jan. 6 in an interview with panel investigators.

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