A federal appeals court on Thursday temporarily blocked the release of White House documents requested by a U.S. House committee investigating the January 6 uprising, accepting – for now – a request from former President Donald Trump.
The administrative injunction issued by the we The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals effectively bans until the end of this month the publication of the documents due to be delivered on Friday. The appeals court ruled oral argument in the case for November 30.
The suspension gives the court time to consider the arguments in an epochal confrontation between the former president, whose supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6th, and President Joe Biden and Congress, who have pushed for a thorough investigation into the uprising.
It delays the House committee from reviewing documents that lawmakers say could shed light on the events leading up to the insurgency and Trump’s efforts to delegitimize an election he lost.
The National Archives, which hold the documents, say they include call logs, handwritten notes and a draft executive order on “election integrity”.
Biden has waived executive privilege on documents. Trump then went to court arguing that, as a former president, he still had the right to exercise privileges over the documents and publishing them would harm the presidency in the future.
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan dismissed those arguments on Tuesday, noting in part, “Presidents are not kings and plaintiff is not president.” On Wednesday he again denied a Trump emergency motion.
In their emergency filing at the court of appeal, trumpThe lawyers wrote that without a stay, Trump “would suffer irreparable harm through the effective denial of a constitutional and statutory right to be fully heard over a serious disagreement between the former president and the incumbent president.”
Discussions on November 30 will take place before three judges nominated by Democratic presidents: Patricia Millett and Robert Wilkins, nominated by former President Barack Obama, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated by Biden.
Given the scale of the case, anyone who loses in circuit court is likely to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
The White House also told an attorney for Mark Meadows, a former Trump chief of staff, on Thursday that Biden would be waiving any executive privileges that prevented Meadows from partnering with the committee, according to a letter obtained by the Associated Press.
The committee sued Meadows and more than two dozen other people as part of its investigation.
His attorney, George Terwilliger, released a statement in response saying that Meadows “remains under former President Trump’s instructions to abide by longstanding principles of executive privilege.”
“It now appears that the courts will have to resolve this conflict,” Terwilliger said.
The committee last Thursday threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against Meadows if he doesn’t change course and comply.
“Simply put, there is no valid legal basis for Mr. Meadows ‘continued resistance to the select committee’s summons,” the committee wrote to Terwilliger, saying it would consider Meadows’ failure to deliver documents or appear at a scheduled deposition on Friday. as “voluntary default”.
The House has already referred former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to the Justice Department for a potential criminal case for contempt of Congress.