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Judge refuses Trump’s request to block the release of Jan. 6 documents

President Trump waves onstage
President Trump arrives to speak at a rally Jan. 6 in Washington.
(Associated Press)
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A federal judge on Tuesday rejected former President Trump’s request to block the release of documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan declined to issue a preliminary injunction sought by Trump’s lawyers. Chutkan said President Biden is “best positioned” to determine whether to waive executive privilege on documents sought by the House.

“At bottom, this is a dispute between a former and incumbent President,” Chutkan wrote. “And the Supreme Court has already made clear that in such circumstances, the incumbent’s view is accorded greater weight.”

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Trump “does not acknowledge the deference owed” to Biden’s judgment as the current president, Chutkan said. However, she added, “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”

A House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot has asked telecom and social media companies to preserve personal communication records.

Sept. 2, 2021

The records that would be given to the committee include call logs, drafts of remarks and speeches and handwritten notes from Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, according to a court filing by the National Archives. There are also copies of talking points from former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and “a draft Executive Order on the topic of election integrity,” the National Archives said.

The National Archives said it would turn over records by Friday, absent a court order stopping it from doing so. Minutes after Chutkan’s order became public, Trump filed notice that he would appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The case is likely to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Biden largely waived executive privilege on records that would be given to the committee.

The House committee was formed to investigate the circumstances behind the deadly insurrection in which supporters of Trump sought to overturn his loss in the 2020 election. Trump has repeatedly attacked the committee’s work and continued to promote unfounded conspiracy theories about the election.

In suing to block the National Archives from turning over documents, Trump called the House panel’s request a “vexatious, illegal fishing expedition” that was “untethered from any legitimate legislative purpose.” Allowing the House to get access to his records would damage executive privilege for future presidents, Trump’s lawyers argued.

Chutkan said that “the public interest lies in permitting — not enjoining — the combined will of the legislative and executive branches to study the events that led to and occurred on January 6, and to consider legislation to prevent such events from ever occurring again.”

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Scholar Tom Mann says the radicalization of Republicans a decade ago worsened under Trump.

July 29, 2021

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the House committee, told CNN Tuesday that Chutkan’s ruling was “a big deal” and said Trump should stop behaving like a “spoiled brat.”

“I look forward to getting this information,” Thompson said. “I look forward to our investigators going through it with a fine-tooth comb to make sure that our government was not weaponized against its citizens.”

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