Court Battles

Jan. 6 panel tells court it urgently needs Trump records

The select House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack told a federal appeals court on Monday that it urgently needs extensive records from former President Trump’s White House, arguing that more time would hinder its probe.

“Delay itself would inflict a serious constitutional injury on the Select Committee by interfering with its legislative duty. The Select Committee needs the documents now because they will shape the direction of the investigation,” the panel’s attorneys wrote in a filing with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. “For example, the documents could inform which witnesses to depose and what questions to ask them, as well as whether further subpoenas should be issued to others.”

Trump is appealing the case after a trial judge rejected his lawsuit to block the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) from complying with the select committee’s document requests. The former president argued that the Biden administration’s compliance with the congressional investigation violates his own rights to executive privilege.

A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear oral arguments in the case next week. The panel granted Trump a brief reprieve earlier this month by issuing a temporary injunction that delays the release of documents while an accelerated appeals process plays out.

Trump’s lawyers are arguing that the committee’s request is overly broad and lacks a valid legislative purpose. Last week, they urged the D.C. Circuit to overturn U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s ruling, saying it would upend the balance of powers between the legislative and executive branches.

“The stakes in this case are high,” Trump’s lawyers wrote at the time. “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.”

On Monday, the select committee argued that the internal records, including communications among Trump’s top advisers, are crucial in its effort to understand what led up to the Capitol riot and to legislate in order to protest future peaceful transfers of power.

“To do so, the Committee needs to know what, if anything, Mr. Trump, his advisers, and others close to him knew or publicly communicated relating to the efforts to undermine or overturn the results of the 2020 election,” the committee’s filing reads.

Tags Capitol breach Capitol insurrection Capitol riot Donald Trump Jan. 6 Capitol attack Jan. 6 Committee NARA National Archives and Records Administration

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