Appeals court temporarily delays release of Trump’s January 6 records

Injunction effectively bars release of records until oral arguments begin at end of November

A federal appeals court last week temporarily halted the release of White House records sought by a US House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, per a request from former president Donald Trump.

The administrative injunction issued by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit effectively bars the release of records that were to be turned over on November 12, at least until the end of this month.

The appeals court set oral arguments in the case for November 30.

The stay delays the House committee from reviewing records that lawmakers say could shed light on the events leading up to the insurrection and Trump’s efforts to delegitimize an election he lost.

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan had originally refused Mr Trump's request to block the records, saying that Congress had a strong public interest in obtaining records that could shed light on the insurrection mounted by the former president's supporters.

Ms Chuktan added that President Joe Biden had the authority to waive executive privilege over the documents despite Mr Trump’s assertions otherwise.

“At bottom, this is a dispute between a former and incumbent President,” Ms Chutkan wrote. “And the Supreme Court has already made clear that in such circumstances, the incumbent’s view is accorded greater weight.”

Mr Trump “does not acknowledge the deference owed” to Mr Biden’s judgment as the current president, Ms Chutkan said. She noted examples of past presidents declining to assert executive privilege and rejected what she said was Mr Trump’s claim that executive privilege “exists in perpetuity".

“Presidents are not kings and plaintiff is not president,” she said.

An earlier court filing from the archives showed that the records include call logs, drafts of remarks and speeches and handwritten notes from Mr Trump’s chief of staff at the time Mark Meadows.

The White House on Thursday also notified a lawyer for Mr Meadows that Mr Biden would waive any executive privilege that would prevent Meadows from cooperating with the committee, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

Mr Meadows last week defied a subpoena to appear before the House Select Committee.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon turned himself over to federal authorities on Monday after he was indicted for defying his own subpoena.

There are also copies of talking points from press secretary at the time Kayleigh McEnany and “a draft executive order on the topic of election integrity”, the National Archives has said.

The nine-member committee is investigating not only Mr Trump’s conduct on January 6 — when he told a rally to “fight like hell” shortly before rioters overran law enforcement — but his efforts in the months before the riot to challenge election results or obstruct a peaceful transfer of power.

Mr Trump has attacked the committee’s work and continued to promote unfounded theories about widespread fraud in the election, despite the fact that Mr Biden’s victory was certified by all 50 states and his claims have been rebuked by courts across the country.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: November 15th 2021, 5:50 PM
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