Former U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday lost another bid to halt congressional investigators from seeing White House records he wants to keep secret.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan declined to put on hold her ruling from Tuesday allowing a House of Representatives committee to obtain Trump White House records relating to the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“This court will not effectively ignore its own reasoning,” she wrote.
Trump’s lawyers had asked Chutkan to pause enforcement of her ruling while he appeals it to a higher court. Trump made a similar request to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which has yet to act on his request.
The National Archives, a federal agency that holds Trump’s White House records, is scheduled to give Congress hundreds of pages of documents on Friday, barring a potential order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The case probably will eventually head to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Chutkan’s decision allowed the House committee investigating the attack to access telephone records, visitor logs and other White House documents that Trump wants blocked.
The Republican former president had argued that the materials requested by the committee were covered by a legal doctrine known as executive privilege that protects the confidentiality of some White House communications.
But Chutkan, in her Tuesday ruling, rejected that argument, in a clear win for congressional oversight powers.
White House blocks Trump attempt to withhold documents related to Jan. 6 attack
“At bottom, this is a dispute between a former and incumbent President,” Chutkan said in her Tuesday order. “And the Supreme Court has already made clear that in such circumstances, the incumbent’s view is accorded greater weight.”
Trump “does not acknowledge the deference owed” to Biden’s judgment as the current president, Chutkan said. She noted examples of past presidents declining to assert executive privilege and rejected what she said was Trump’s claim that executive privilege “exists in perpetuity.”
“Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” she said.
The committee has said it needs the requested materials to understand the role Trump may have played in fomenting the riot in which his supporters aimed to block lawmakers from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who leads the House committee, said in a statement after the ruling that the records are crucial for understanding the attack and “in my view, there couldn’t be a more compelling public interest than getting answers about an attack on our democracy.”
On CNN, Thompson said Trump should stop behaving like a “spoiled brat.”
Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich tweeted late Tuesday that the case “was destined to be decided by the Appellate Courts.” He added that “Trump remains committed to defending the Constitution & the Office of the Presidency, & will be seeing this process through.”
The White House said Chutkan’s opinion “is consistent with what the President has already said” about the riot. “It is absolutely vital for there to be a full accounting of the events on that day to ensure that something like that never happens again,” spokesman Mike Gwin said.
Four people died on Jan. 6, one shot dead by police and the other three of natural causes, and more than 100 police officers were injured in the attack. A Capitol Police officer who had been attacked by protesters died the next day and four other police officers who defended the Capitol later died by suicide.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)
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