WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a request by former President Donald Trump to block the release of documents to a House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riots.
Rejecting the preliminary injunction, US District Judge Tanya Chutkan said Congress had a strong interest in obtaining documents that could shed light on the violent uprising orchestrated by supporters of the former president. She added that President Joe Biden had the right to relinquish executive privilege over documents, despite Trump’s claims to the contrary.
Barring a court order, the National Archives plans to turn over Trump’s documents to the committee by Friday. But Trump’s lawyers immediately promised to file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The case is likely to eventually go to the US Supreme Court.
“In essence, this is a dispute between the former and the current president,” Chutkan wrote. “And the Supreme Court has already made it clear that in such circumstances, the point of view of the current president has more weight.”
Trump “does not give due respect” to Biden’s judgment as incumbent president, Chutkan said. She highlighted examples of past presidents who have refused to assert executive power and rejected what she said was Trump’s claim that executive privilege “lasts forever.”
“Presidents are not kings, and the plaintiff is not the president,” she said.
According to earlier court records from the archives, the records include call logs, draft remarks and speeches, and handwritten notes by then Trump administration chief Mark Meadows. There are also copies of the talking points for then-press secretary Kaylee McEnany and the “draft executive order on electoral integrity,” the National Archives said.
Rep. Benny Thompson, Rep. Who chairs the House committee, said in a statement after the ruling that recordings are critical to understanding the attack and “in my opinion, there can be no more compelling public interest than getting answers about the attack on our democracy ”.
On CNN, Thompson said Trump must stop acting like a “spoiled villain.”
A nine-member House committee is investigating not only Trump’s behavior on January 6, when he told protesters to “fight like hell” shortly before rioters took over law enforcement, but his efforts months before the riot to challenge or obstruct the election results. peaceful transfer of power. The committee interviewed more than 150 witnesses and issued more than 30 subpoenas, including those announced Tuesday by Mackinani and former chief adviser Stephen Miller. It is unclear whether lawmakers will eventually call Trump to testify.
Trump has repeatedly criticized the committee’s work and continued to promote unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about widespread electoral fraud, even though Biden’s victory was confirmed by all 50 states and his claims were rejected by courts across the country.
Going to court to block the transfer of documents to the National Archives, Trump called the House Commission’s request “an annoying illegal fishing expedition” that “is not associated with any legitimate purpose.” Trump’s lawyers argued that allowing the House of Representatives to access his records would also harm the executive privileges of future presidents.
But Chutkan said that “the public interest is to allow – not prescribe – the combined will of the legislative and executive branches of government to study the events that led and occurred on January 6, and to consider legislation to prevent such events from recurring. “
Trump spokesman Taylor Budovich tweeted Tuesday night that the case “must be heard by the courts of appeal.” He added that “Trump remains committed to protecting the Constitution and the Office of the President and will see this process through to the end.”
Associated Press contributors Zeke Miller and Mary Claire Jalonik contributed to this report.