A federal judge has rejected former President Donald Trump’s effort to block Jan. 6 investigators from accessing hundreds of pages of White House records related to the riot at the U.S. Capitol, determining that the former president has no authority to overrule President Joe Biden’s decision to waive executive privilege and release the materials to Congress.
“Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote in her 39-page ruling.
Trump immediately appealed the decision, but the National Archives, which houses Trump’s White House records, is still planning on turning over a number of documents on Friday unless a court intervenes. These documents include White House call logs, video logs and schedules related to the Jan. 6 riot and three pages of handwritten notes from Mark Meadows, who was Trump’s chief of staff at the time.
Chutkan’s ruling is a major victory for the Jan. 6 committee in the House, which is led by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson. The record will help the committee in its pursuit of more records or information from people who have been subpoenaed but haven’t testified in front of the committee. The House committee has subpoenaed multiple people close to former President Donald Trump, and added ten former administration officials to the list on Tuesday.
Committee investigators are hopeful the White House records will provide insight into Trump’s months-long and ongoing campaign to portray the 2020 election as rigged, as well as his efforts to use the power of his administration to aid his attempt to overturn the election.
Thompson, the chairman of the House select committee, has said the committee is open to subpoenaing former President Donald Trump “if the evidence” leads them there.
Thompson called the ruling a “big deal” as he learned of it live on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” program. Thompson said that he looks forward to investigators “going through (the documents) with a fine-tooth comb to make sure that our government was not weaponized against its citizens.”
In her ruling, Chutkin declined a request to look at Trump’s records document by document and wrote that the incumbent president is the person in the best position to protect the interests of the executive branch. She also noted that though the committee has made sweeping requests for requests, it does “not exceed” its legislative power.
“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,” Chutkan wrote.
Thomson told Chris Cuomo in the Tuesday night interview that the former president should stop trying to block the release of White House records through court challenges.
“We are a nation of laws,” Thompson said. “So if you take your issue to court, and lose, then you need to man up, and deal with it and not be a spoiled brat.”