US judge rejects Trump bid to block Capitol attack records

World Wednesday 10/November/2021 17:37 PM
By: DW
US judge rejects Trump bid to block Capitol attack records

A US judge on Tuesday ruled that the Congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol can access former President Donald Trump's White House records.

The judge rejected Trump's request to block the release of the documents, including telephone records, visitor logs, and other White House records.

The US House Select Committee has said it needs the materials to understand the role the ex-leader may have played in fomenting the riot.

"While broad, these requests, and each of the other requests made by the Committee, do not exceed the Committee's legislative powers," US District Judge Tanya Chutkan said Tuesday.

Why did Trump seek to block the release of the Jan. 6 records?

President Joe Biden's administration has already approved the release of the documents.

But Trump had requested an injunction blocking the National Archives, a federal agency that holds his White House records.

His lawyers argued that the documents were covered by executive privilege, a legal doctrine that protects the confidentiality of some White House communications.

Trump's "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 wrote in a 39-page opinion.

"But Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President."

"The court holds that the public interest lies in permitting — not enjoining — the combined will of the legislative and executive branches to study the events that led to and occurred on January 6, and to consider legislation to prevent such events from ever occurring again."

What did Trump want to keep sealed?

The former president gave an incendiary speech at the "Save America" rally ahead of the Capitol riot urging his supporters to "fight like hell" to "stop the steal."

The documents that he now wants to be hidden from the committee include records from his top aides and memos to his then-press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

It includes a handwritten note on the January 6 events and a draft text of his speech that led up to the attack.

Trump also hoped to block the release of the White House daily diary which keeps a record of his activities, trips, briefings, and phone calls.

The material includes records of his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, his former senior advisor Stephen Miller and his former deputy counsel Patrick Philbin forcing the shutdown of Congress and delaying the joint session formally certifying Joe Biden's election victory.