A federal judge on Tuesday rejected former President Donald Trump’s attempt to block the National Archives from releasing White House records to the January 6 committee, The New York Times reports.
The House committee investigating the Capitol riot in August requested a trove of White House records from the National Archives, including notes from top Trump aides and White House visitor and call logs.
The request also seeks all videos of Trump recorded on January 6 and any other media recorded by the White House that day. The committee also asked for records related to any White House efforts to “delay, halt, or otherwise impede the electoral count.”
Trump sued the National Archives and the committee, arguing that he still retains executive privilege over the documents as a former president despite President Joe Biden refusing to assert privilege over the records.
Trump also argued that the request was overly broad and had no legislative purpose.
Just in case, he offered to let the judge review the individual documents to determine which ones can be turned over.
But the judge rejected his arguments:
Trump “does not acknowledge the deference owed to the incumbent president’s judgment. His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power ‘exists in perpetuity,’” DC Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote in her opinion. “But presidents are not kings, and plaintiff is not president.”
Chutkan said that Trump’s executive privilege claims do not “hold water” after Biden’s refusal.
Congress and the Biden administration, she wrote, “contend that discovering and coming to terms with the causes underlying the Jan. 6 attack is a matter of unsurpassed public importance because such information relates to our core democratic institutions and the public’s confidence in them. The court agrees.”
Trump immediately filed an appeal in DC court.
“The battle to defend Executive Privilege for Presidents past, present & future—from its outset—was destined to be decided by the Appellate Courts,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said on Twitter. “Pres. Trump remains committed to defending the Constitution & the Office of the Presidency, & will be seeing this process through.”
Committee chairman Bennie Thompson said the lawsuit is “little more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our investigation.”
“Along our country’s history, the executive branch has provided Congress with testimony and information when it has been in the public interest,” he added. “This evening’s ruling is consistent with that tradition. And in my view, there couldn’t be a more compelling public interest than getting answers about an attack on our democracy.”