Updated Nov 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Judge denies Trump's appeal to shield records from Jan. 6 committee

Trump standing on a podium.
Former President Trump. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

A federal judge on Wednesday denied former President Trump's latest emergency motion to stop the National Archives from turning over his administration's records to the Jan. 6 committee.

The latest: "This court will not effectively ignore its own reasoning," Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote on Wednesday in response to the Trump legal team's appeal following the judge's earlier ruling.

Driving the news: Trump's lawyers filed their appeal soon after Chutkan ruled on Tuesday that the Jan 6. committee could access hundreds of pages of documents from the Trump White House that the former president's legal team had moved to block.

  • The Trump team argued in part that handing over the records would undermine special privileges aimed at protecting presidents' abilities to have candid conversations.

Details: Chutkan noted in Tuesday's ruling that the plaintiff, Trump, "does not acknowledge the deference owed to the incumbent President's judgment."

  • "His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power 'exists in perpetuity,'" Chutkan added. "But Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President."

Worth noting: Chutkan, an appointee of former President Obama, during a hearing last week questioned Trump lawyer Justin Clark on if he can still assert executive privilege — which typically applies to sitting presidents.

  • But Chutkan had also called the panel's more than 700-page request of Trump files from National Archives “alarmingly broad," citing requests relating to polling data and election issues.

What they're saying: Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the Jan. 6 select committee, said in an emailed statement that the judge's decision means "we're on sound footing by getting this information."

  • "And if somebody is hollering this hard and this loud, I am to assume that undoubtedly, you have something to hide," Thompson added.
  • "If we have access to the records, they'll speak for themselves. So we look forward, as a committee, to getting it. And we'll let the evidence based on what we look at determine guilt or innocence."

For the record: The Biden administration has asserted it does not believe that privilege should apply in all cases, and that they will evaluate records requests on a case-by-case basis.

  • A lawyer for the National Archives argued last week that Biden's view on privilege carried more weight than his predecessor's, and that the nature of the Jan. 6 attack did "create a congressional need that outweigh confidentiality in this instance."

The other side: Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment, but Taylor Budowich, a spokesperson for the former president, tweeted: "The battle to defend Executive Privilege for Presidents past, present & future — from its outset — was destined to be decided by the Appellate Courts."

What's next: The first batch of documents was initially set to be turned over on Friday, per NBC News.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include details of Trump's appeal filing and its rejection, and with comment from Chutkan, Thompson and Budowich.

Go deeper