Fri. Dec 3rd, 2021

The former US president has requested to block the release of documents to the House Committee investigating the January 6 riot.

A federal judge has rejected former President Donald Trump’s request to block the release of documents to the House Committee investigating the January 6 riot.

In denial of a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said Tuesday that Congress has a strong public interest in obtaining records that could shed light on a violent uprising tackled by the former president’s supporters.

She added that President Joe Biden had the authority to relinquish executive privilege over the documents despite Trump’s allegations otherwise.

Except for a court order, the National Archives plans to hand over Trump’s records to the committee by Friday. But Trump’s lawyers quickly pledged an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The case is likely to eventually go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This is a dispute between a former and incumbent president,” Chutkan wrote. “And the Supreme Court has already made it clear that the incumbent’s view enjoys greater weight in such circumstances.”

Trump “does not acknowledge the respect he owes” to Biden’s judgment as the current president, Chutkan said. She cited examples of former presidents refusing to assert executive privilege and rejecting what she said was Trump’s assertion that executive privilege “persists.”

“Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not president,” she said.

According to an earlier court filing from the archives, the records include call logs, drafts of remarks and speeches, and handwritten notes from Trump’s then chief of staff, Mark Meadows. There are also copies of discussion points from then-press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and “a draft executive order on the subject of electoral integrity”, the National Archives said.

‘Attack on our democracy’

Mississippi Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, who chairs the House committee, said in a statement after the ruling that the records were crucial to understanding the attack and “in my opinion there can be no more compelling public interest than to get answers about an attack on our democracy ”.

On CNN, Thompson said Trump should stop acting like a “spoiled brat”.

The nine-member House committee is examining not only Trump’s actions on January 6 – when he called a rally to “fight like hell” shortly before rioters exceeded law enforcement – but his efforts in the months leading up to the riot to turn out election results to challenge or impede a peaceful transfer of power.

The committee interviewed more than 150 witnesses and issued more than 30 subpoenas, including those announced Tuesday to McEnany and former top adviser Stephen Miller. It is unclear so far whether lawmakers will eventually call Trump to testify.

Trump has repeatedly attacked the committee’s work and continued to advance unfounded conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud, despite Biden’s victory being certified by all 50 states and his claims being punished by courts across the country.

In a subpoena to prevent the National Archives from transmitting documents, Trump called the House panel’s request for an “annoying, illegal fishing expedition” that was “detached from any legitimate legislative purpose.” Allowing the House to access its records would also damage the executive privilege of future presidents, Trump’s attorneys argued.

But Chutkan said the “public interest lies in allowing the joint will of the legislative and executive branches – not forcing them to study the events that led to and took place on January 6, and to legislate. consider preventing such events from ever happening again. ” .

Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich tweeted late Tuesday that the case was “destined to be decided by the appellate courts.”

He added that “Trump is still committed to defending the Constitution and the Office of the Presidency, and will review this process”.

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