Court order in Jan. 6 documents case may be bad sign for Trump

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WASHINGTON — A federal court order late Tuesday could be a worrying sign for former President Donald Trump in his attempt to claim executive privileges on documents sought by a US government official. House committee is investigating Attack on the Capitol on January 6.

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The US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia informed attorneys for Trump, the House committee and the National Archives that they should be prepared to address whether the court also has the legal authority to hear the dispute. Oral arguments have been scheduled for November 30.

The committee investigating the riots has asked the National Archives to turn over scores of Trump administration documents — including memos, emails, White House conversation records and visitor logs — as it investigates the origins of the attack. .


The House panel is seeking Trump’s records from the archives as the agency maintains all documents from previous administrations. Trump claimed executive privilege over some of the material, but President Joe Biden said the records should be released to Congress, citing the importance of the bipartisan committee’s work.

U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan this month ordered the archives to hand over the material, but the appeals court paused for a while to consider the issue more.

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Late Tuesday, the appeals court ordered lawyers in the case to be prepared to resolve the issue of jurisdiction. The fact that the court is contemplating its right to take the case is telling: courts generally protect their jurisdiction.

The court itself raised the question, which means it was not suggested by the lawyers in the case. It asked: “Does the Presidential Records Act provide for the Archivist to ‘determine whether access to the President’s records shall be restricted to … this section’ … to include the jurisdiction of this court or district court in this matter ?”

The court cited a 2001 case challenging plans for a World War II memorial on the National Mall in Washington. Congress passed a law that said no court could review the plans. The challengers argued that the legislative language was unconstitutional, but an appeals court disagreed and threw out the suit.

If the appeals court were to take a similar action in Trump’s case, it could appeal to the Supreme Court. But if his lawsuit is ultimately dismissed, it would pave the way for the January 6 committee to retrieve documents from the archives.

Tuesday’s order also directed lawyers to be prepared to answer a second question: “If so, to what effect, if any, [those provisions] What is the subject jurisdiction of the District Court to adjudicate any of the requests listed in the claim for relief?

Trump’s lawyers have argued that the congressional committee had no legitimate legislative purpose in seeking his White House records and instead investigated the events of January 6, 2021 under the guise of intimidating President Trump and his closest advisers. And started investigation to harass. ,

The committee responded by saying in its court filing that “the actions of the former president, his advisers and other government officials have contributed to the attack on Congress to disrupt the peaceful transfer of records to complete a thorough investigation.” Requires the power of the President.”

In addition to seeking records from the Trump White House, the committee has issued several subpoenas in recent weeks to Trump administration officials and key aides to the former president, including Roger Stone and Alex Jones.

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