Trump makes new bid to block records from Capitol riot probe before Friday deadline
Tear gas is released into a crowd of protesters, with one wielding a Confederate battle flag that reads “Come and Take It,” during clashes with Capitol police at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.
Shannon Stapleton | Reuters
Former President Donald Trump on Thursday asked a federal appeals court to temporarily halt the release of White House records to lawmakers investigating the deadly Capitol invasion, just one day before those records are set to be delivered.
The request for a “brief” administrative injunction marks the latest step in Trump’s efforts to stop the National Archives from handing reams of documents over to the House select committee probing the Jan. 6 attack.
Trump, who never conceded the 2020 election to President Joe Biden and is hinting he will run for president again in 2024, was impeached in the House for inciting an insurrection and acquitted in the Senate. The invasion of the Capitol by a mob of hundreds of Trump’s supporters forced members of Congress to flee their chambers during a joint session, temporarily derailing efforts to confirm Biden’s Electoral College victory.
U.S. Archivist David Ferriero is scheduled to start producing the disputed documents by Friday at 6 p.m. ET, Trump’s lawyer told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The lawyer, Jesse Binnall, is asking the D.C. Circuit to block the records from being released while the court considers another injunction on a fast-track basis.
“Put simply, this motion seeks only a brief pause in the production; it will not prejudice the other arguments or requests to be made by the parties in this important appeal,” Binnall wrote to the appeals court.
The House committee and the National Archives do not oppose the administrative injunction request, Binnall wrote.
The emergency request to the appeals court came after federal Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected multiple attempts by Trump’s lawyer to freeze the transfer of records to the Jan. 6 panel.
The bipartisan select committee is seeking a wide range of records from Trump’s term in the White House, including communications about strategies to reverse Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Judges shot down dozens of Trump campaign lawsuits challenging results at the state level.
Trump in mid-October sued the bipartisan select committee, as well as the National Archives and Records Administration, in U.S. District Court in Washington to halt the release of those records.
Binnall argued that many of them should be withheld because they are protected by executive privilege, the doctrine that allows some executive branch communications to be kept confidential. But Biden refused to invoke privilege over the disputed documents.
Chutkan ruled against Trump on Tuesday night, writing that his 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.”
Trump filed a notice of appeal to the D.C. Circuit less than an hour later.
The select committee, which includes seven Democrats and two Republicans, has vowed to proceed as quickly as possible with its investigation of the facts and causes of the Jan. 6 invasion.
So far this week, the panel has announced new rounds of subpoenas requesting testimony and documents from at least 16 current and former Trump associates, including former national security advisor Michael Flynn, ex-press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and former senior advisor Stephen Miller.
The House previously voted to hold Steve Bannon, a former top advisor to Trump, in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena issued by the select committee.