WASHINGTON (NWN) – A federal judge on Tuesday rejected former President Donald Trump’s request to block the release of documents to a House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riots.
Denying the initial injunction, US District Judge Tanya Chutkan said Congress had a strong public interest in obtaining records that could shed light on the violent rebellion perpetrated by supporters of the former president. He said President Joe Biden had the authority to waive executive privileges on the documents, despite Trump’s claim otherwise.
Barring a court order, the National Archives plans to submit Trump’s records to the committee by Friday. But Trump’s lawyers promised to swiftly appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The case is likely to eventually go to the US Supreme Court.
“At the bottom, this is a dispute between a former and incumbent president,” wrote Chutkan. “And the Supreme Court has already made it clear that in such circumstances, the view of the incumbent is given more importance.”
Chutkan said Trump “does not accept the outstanding respect” for Biden’s decision as the current president, Chutkan said. He cited examples of past presidents claiming executive privilege and rejected what he said was Trump’s claim that executive privilege “exists perpetually.”
“The president is not the king, and the plaintiffs are not the president,” she said.
According to a court before the archives, the records include call logs, drafts of comments and speeches, and handwritten notes from Trump’s then chief of staff, Mark Meadows. The National Archives said there are also copies of the talking points of then-press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and “a draft executive order on the subject of election integrity”.
Representative Benny Thompson, D-Miss., who chairs the House committee, said in a statement after the verdict that the records are critical to understanding the attack and that “in my view, there cannot be a more lucrative public interest than receiving Answer about the attack on our democracy.”
On CNN, Thompson said Trump should stop behaving like a “bad brat.”
The nine-member House committee is probing Trump’s conduct not only on January 6 – when he told a rally to “fight like hell” shortly before the rioters dismantled law enforcement – but before the riots. His attempts to challenge or obstruct the election results in months of peaceful transfer of power. The committee has interviewed more than 150 witnesses and issued more than 30 subpoenas, including McEnany and former top adviser Stephen Miller, announced Tuesday. It is not yet clear whether lawmakers will eventually call Trump to testify.
Trump has repeatedly attacked the committee’s work and continues to promote unfounded conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud, despite the fact that Biden’s victory was substantiated by all 50 states and his claims. The reprimands were followed by courts across the country.
Suing to block the National Archives from turning over the documents, Trump called the House panel’s request a “disturbing, illegal fishing campaign” that was “immoral for any legitimate legislative purpose.” Trump’s lawyers argued that allowing the House access to his records would also harm the executive privileges of future presidents.
But Chutkan said, “the public interest lies in allowing the joint will of the legislative and executive branches to study the events of January 6 and consider legislation to prevent such incidents from happening again.”
Trump spokesman Taylor Budovich tweeted late Tuesday that the matter was “to be decided by the Courts of Appeals.” He added that “Trump is committed to protecting the Constitution and the office of the President, and will look into the process.”
Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Marie Claire Jalonik contributed to this report.