Trump urges court to overturn ‘rubber stamp’ of Jan. 6 committee
Lawyers for former President Trump on Tuesday asked an appeals court to overturn a judge’s ruling that would allow the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to hand over hundreds of pages of White House records to the House Jan. 6 Select Committee.
In a brief filed with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Trump’s legal team argued that the ruling from U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan is essentially a “rubber stamp” for the committee and would upend the balance of powers between the executive and legislative branches.
“The stakes in this case are high,” the filing reads. “A decision upholding the Committees’ request to NARA would have enormous consequences, forever changing the dynamics between the political branches. It is naïve to assume that the fallout will be limited to President Trump or the events of January 6, 2021. Every Congress will point to some unprecedented thing 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 perpetually harass its political rival.”
Trump quickly appealed after Chutkan ruled in favor of the committee last week and secured a temporary injunction from the D.C. circuit just a day before NARA was set to begin handing over records to the committee.
Trump’s lawyers have argued that the records request is impermissibly broad and the Biden administration’s refusal to honor the former president’s assertions of executive privilege infringes on his constitutional rights.
But Chutkan ruled last week that Trump as a former president has little power to interfere in such an exchange between the sitting president and Congress.
“The legislative and executive branches believe the balance of equities and public interest are well served by the Select Committee’s inquiry,” the judge, an Obama appointee, wrote. “The court will not second guess the two branches of government that have historically negotiated their own solutions to congressional requests for presidential documents.”
The former president’s legal team told the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday that if Chutkan’s decision were to stand, it would open up future presidents to invasive congressional harassment.
“If the Committee’s request is upheld, there would be no limitation on the presidential records Congress could review,” they wrote in the filing.
“Adopting the district court’s novel rule would allow Congress to give itself the power to investigate and undermine the authority of both the Executive Branch and Judicial Branch of the federal government,” Trump’s lawyers added. “This would upend any notion of separate and co-equal branches of government.”
The appeals court has fast-tracked Trump’s appeal, with responses from the committee and the Biden administration due next week. A three-judge panel will hear oral arguments in the case on Nov. 30.
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