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A federal judge has rejected Donald Trump’s bid to block a bipartisan House select committee from obtaining records relating to the January 6 Capitol riots.
Trump filed a lawsuit to block access to the White House records last month in a bid to prevent the archivist of the United States from releasing them to the select committee as part of its investigation of the insurrection.
His filing came after President Joe Biden refused Trump’s request to use executive privilege; a doctrine that allows some executive branch dealings between the president and his advisers to be kept confidential.
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected the bid in an opinion issued on November 9, confirming the committee will be able to access telephone records, visitor logs and other documents created during the Trump administration.
The judge referenced Biden’s decision to refuse Trump’s request of invoking executive privilege and explained his decision should be ‘accorded greater weight’ than Trump’s request.
Per The Independent, she wrote:
Plaintiff 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’.
But presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not president. He retains the right to assert that his records are privileged, but the incumbent president ‘is not constitutionally obliged to honour’ that assertion.
In response to the judge’s decision, the select committee’s chairman Mississippi representative Bennie Thompson said the group ‘appreciates the court’s swift and decisive ruling on the former president’s lawsuit.’
In a statement, Thompson continued:
The presidential records we requested from the National Archives are critical for understanding the terrible events of 6 January. Along our country’s history, the executive branch has provided Congress with testimony and information when it has been in the public interest. This evening’s ruling is consistent with that tradition.
This decision affirms the importance of the select committee’s work to get answers for the American people, recommend changes to the law to strengthen our democracy, and help ensure nothing like the attack of 6 January ever happens again.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden decided to refuse Trump’s request of executive privilege because the former president ‘abused the office of the presidency and attempted to subvert a peaceful transfer of power, something that had happened between Democratic and Republican presidencies for decades and decades throughout history’.
Psaki added: ‘The former president’s actions represented a unique and existential threat to our democracy that we don’t feel can be swept under the rug, and as President Biden determined … the constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield information.’
Trump is appealing Chutkan’s ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
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