Judge rejects Trump bid to block records from House probe of Jan. 6 Capitol riot
Former U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to speak during the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC held at the Hilton Anatole on July 11, 2021 in Dallas, Texas.
Brandon Bell | Getty Images
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 in a court order said that Trump is “unlikely to succeed on the merits of his claims or suffer irreparable harm,” and that “a balance of the equities and public interest bear against” granting his request.
Trump is appealing the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
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 in federal court in Washington that many of the documents being sought are shielded by executive privilege.
But Chutkan 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 has already made clear that in such circumstances, the incumbent’s view is accorded greater weight.”
Trump’s view “appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power ‘exists in perpetuity,'” Chutkan wrote. “But president are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”
Binnall had accused the select committee members of seeking to “harass” the former president through a “vexatious, illegal fishing expedition.” It also railed against President Joe Biden for rejecting Trump’s privilege claims, accusing him of a “political ploy to accommodate his partisan allies.”
On Monday night, Binnall filed an emergency request for Chutkan to issue an injunction blocking the National Archives from releasing the disputed records. The archivist, David Ferriero, is set to deliver those documents to the select committee by Friday, Binnall said.
The attorney told Chutkan that if she ultimately decides not to block the committee’s request, Trump will “promptly” file an appeal. In that case, Binnall argued, Chutkan should issue an emergency injunction pending that appeal to give the appellate court time to consider it.
The lawyer, noting the Veterans Day holiday on Thursday, told Chutkan that if she did not issue an order by Wednesday, Trump would “interpret the Court’s silence as a refusal” and move to appeal to the D.C. Circuit.
“If injunctive relief is refused, the National Archives and Records Administration will produce records before judicial review is complete and before President Trump has had the opportunity to be fully and fairly heard,” Binnall wrote in the request for an emergency injunction.
Chutkan denied that request on procedural grounds shortly after midnight on Tuesday, calling it “premature” in the absence of a court order or final judgment.
This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.