Trump looks to appeals court to keep records from Jan. 6 probe after judge rejects emergency bid
Former President Donald Trump
Yuri Gripas | Reuters
A federal judge on Wednesday rejected former President Donald Trump’s emergency request to keep a slew of White House records out of the hands of lawmakers investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol invasion.
Trump’s legal team will now look to an appeals court to stop the National Archives from releasing those records to the House select committee conducting the probe. U.S. Archivist David Ferriero is expected to start turning over those documents on Friday.
The latest ruling came one day after U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan denied two different attempts by Trump’s lawyer to block the release of the disputed records.
In her Wednesday night order, Chutkan said, “despite the fact that he requests essentially the same relief as in his original preliminary injunction motion, [Trump] has not advanced any new facts or arguments that persuade the court to reconsider” its decision from a day earlier.
The judge noted that Trump has already filed notice of an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and that he is “therefore free to petition that Court for relief” before Friday.
“This court will not effectively ignore its own reasoning in denying injunctive relief in the first place to grant injunctive relief now,” Chutkan concluded.
One day earlier, the judge had rejected Trump’s bid to block the National Archives from giving House investigators a tranche of records from his time in the White House, including communications about strategies to change Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Trump’s lawyer, Jesse Binnall, had argued that many of the documents should be kept confidential because they were protected by executive privilege, the doctrine that allows some executive branch dealings to be kept confidential. President Joe Biden had refused to invoke privilege over the disputed documents.
The judge in a 39-page opinion wrote that Trump’s view “appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power ‘exists in perpetuity’ … But president are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”
That Tuesday night ruling came hours after Chutkan denied a separate emergency request for an injunction pending an appeal to the D.C. circuit court.
The judge denied that request on procedural grounds, calling it “premature” because she had not yet issued a final judgment in the case.
Trump’s lawyer filed a notice of appeal less than an hour after Chutkan’s ruling Tuesday night.
The select committee is tasked with investigating the facts and causes of the Jan. 6 invasion, when hundreds of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol and forced a joint session of Congress to flee their chambers.
It has vowed to proceed with its probe as quickly as possible, including by issuing subpoenas as a first line of outreach to witnesses who may be uncooperative.
So far this week, the panel has announced at least 16 more subpoenas for testimony and documents from current and former Trump associates, including former national security advisor Michael Flynn, ex-campaign advisor Jason Miller, lawyer John Eastman, former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and former senior advisor Stephen Miller.