Trump Seeks Continued Block on Sending White House Files to Jan. 6 Panel

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald J. Trump asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to prevent the National Archives from giving Congress rapid access to records from the White House relating to the January 6 riots at the Capitol, arguing that litigation over whether they were true. Protected by his claim of executive privilege, it must be made first.

In a 54-page memo filed with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Mr. Trump’s attorney, Jesse R. Benall, reiterated his argument that the Constitution gives the former president the authority to keep these files secret even though he is no longer in office — and even though President Biden He refused to assert an executive privilege on them.

“The stakes in this case are significant,” Benall wrote, adding that the decision to support Congress’ subpoena over Mr. Trump’s objections would set a precedent that would alter the balance between the legislative and executive branches.

“It would be naive to assume that the repercussions will be limited to President Trump or the events of January 6, 2021,” he wrote. Every Congress will point to something unprecedented about “this president” to justify a request for his presidential records. In these hyper-partisan times, Congress will increasingly and inevitably use this new weapon to permanently harass its political opponent.”

The dispute raises new issues about the scope of executive privilege when it is invoked by a former president without the current president’s support. The matter centers on a subpoena issued by the House committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters seeking to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s election victory.

The commission is seeking documents from the White House showing Mr. Trump’s movements, meetings and contacts before and during the day of the riots. January 6 began with a demonstration by Mr. Trump in which he reiterated his baseless assertion that the elections were stolen from him while encouraging his supporters to “fight like hell” and march to the Capitol.

After Biden, through his White House counsel, told the head of the National Archives that he believed it was in the public interest for the January 6 commission to obtain the White House files and therefore not resort to executive privilege over them, Trump filed a lawsuit, asking for an injunction to prevent the agency from turning over the records to Congress.

Last week, Federal Court Justice Tanya Chutkan sided with Congress and the Biden administration. It ruled that while Mr. Trump could invoke executive privilege, any remaining secret powers he had would be outweighed in these circumstances by the Biden-backed constitutional inquiry power of Congress.

Mr. Trump “does not recognize the due respect for the judgment of the incumbent president. Judge Schutkan wrote that his position that he might override the express will of the executive appears to be based on the idea that his executive power “exists forever.” “But chiefs are not kings, and the plaintiff is not chief.”

The National Archives was scheduled to submit the first batch of documents to Congress last Friday. (Additional payments have been determined on a rolling basis). Judge Schottkan refused to prevent the transfer of documents from proceeding while Trump appealed her ruling, but the DC Circuit Appeals Committee issued a short-term injunction to freeze matters in place. For now.

6 committee chair, Representative Benny Thompson, D-Miss., said he wants to finish its work by late spring, raising the question whether litigation will frustrate the committee’s access to records before it completes any. final report.

In his briefing, Mr. Pinal wrote that it was important that legal issues be finally resolved before Congress could gain access to any of the disputed records, suggesting that it would not do his client much good if he eventually won the case but that the House of Representatives had already seen the classified files.

“The limited interest the commission might have in obtaining the required records promptly pales in comparison to President Trump’s interest in obtaining judicial review before he suffers irreparable harm,” Mr. Pinal wrote.

Both in and out of office, amid frequent disagreements with Congress over access to government information for oversight investigations, Mr. Trump has pursued a strategy of stalling, rather than negotiating a compromise, and using the generally slow pace of litigation to end the clock.

Against this backdrop, the Appeals Court panel outlined arguments on November 30 over the initial question of whether it should continue to prevent the National Archives from turning over any papers to Congress while it considers the legal merits of Mr. Trump’s claim for executive privilege. If that block is dropped, Mr. Trump is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court.

To date, all justices randomly assigned to consider the matter have been Democratic appointees with liberal leanings. Judge Schutkan was appointed by President Barack Obama, as well as two judges to the Appeals Tribunal: Patricia A. Millett and Robert L. Wilkins. The third appellate judge, Kitangi Brown-Jackson, was appointed by Mr. Biden.

But if the case reaches the Supreme Court, the atmosphere could be different. Six of the nine judges are Republican appointees with conservative leanings, including three appointed by Mr. Trump to the bench.

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