Late Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected a lawsuit filed by former President Donald J. Trump that sought to prevent the National Archives from turning documents over to the House Select Committee, regarding the January 6 investigation. The Hill reported that Trump cited executive privilege as he sought to block the requirement to furnish records from his presidency “including telephone records, visitor logs and other documents.”
In her ruling, Chutkan said the decision whether to turn over or withhold the documents wasn’t up to Trump. President Biden, she said, was “best positioned to determine matters of executive privilege.”
“Defendants acknowledge that executive privilege may extend beyond a President’s tenure in office, but they emphasize that the privilege exists to protect the executive branch, not an individual. Therefore, they argue, the incumbent President—not a former President—is best positioned to evaluate the long-term interests of the executive branch and to balance the benefits of disclosure against any effect on the ability of future executive branch advisors to provide full and frank advice. The court agrees,” Chutkan wrote.
“The legislative and executive branches believe the balance of equities and public interest are well served by the Select Committee’s inquiry,” she wrote in her ruling. “The court will not second guess the two branches of government that have historically negotiated their own solutions to congressional requests for presidential documents.”
Trump spokesman and Communications Director Taylor Budowich said on Twitter that the former president will fight the decision:
The battle to defend Executive Privilege for Presidents past, present & future—from its outset—was destined to be decided by the Appellate Courts. Pres. Trump remains committed to defending the Constitution & the Office of the Presidency, & will be seeing this process through.
— Taylor Budowich (@TayFromCA) November 10, 2021
Chairman of the January 6 Select Committee Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) applauded the ruling. Trump’s lawsuit, he said, is “little more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our investigation. The presidential records we requested from the National Archives are critical for understanding the terrible events of January 6th. Along [with] our country’s history, the executive branch has provided Congress with testimony and information when it has been in the public interest. This evening’s ruling is consistent with that tradition,” Thompson said.
With the National Archives ordered to turn over the documents this Friday, this case is not likely to end here, as the embattled 45th president continues his fight against the plainly partisan investigation into the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. It may even end up at the Supreme Court, as time is short.
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