Trump sued last month to prevent the National Archives from providing reams of papers from the White House to the Jan. 6 panel, arguing that he retains the right, as a former president, to assert executive privilege over them even if President Joe Biden disagrees – a claim that greatly expands the precedent existing. Trump has also argued that the Jan.6 select committee is illegitimate, operates without a legislative purpose, and aims to harm it politically.
A judge of the Federal District Court sided with the house and Archives earlier this month, dismissing Trump’s claims and ruling that former presidents have a minimal role in protecting their old records, especially when a sitting president chooses to release them to Congress. Despite the victory, the House agreed to a two-week deadline to obtain the records to give the appeals court time to review Trump’s case.
A victory in front of a three-judge panel of the appeals court, which is expected to hear oral arguments in the case next week, would be a huge boost for the House, but probably not the last step. Trump could still seek a ruling from the full appeals court or the Supreme Court. The House is investigating the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill – which followed Trump’s months-long campaign to overturn the election – and looked at Trump’s actions in the frantic final weeks of his tenure to mobilize federal agencies to support its efforts.
The documents at issue, according to the National Archives, include “daily presidential agendas, timetables, appointment information, drafts of speeches and correspondence, handwritten notes, call logs, talking points , memoranda and e-mail chains “. Among the documents Trump seeks to keep from the Jan.6 panel is a handwritten note from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows outlining Trump’s scheduled calls and briefings on electoral certification on the 6th. January.
“The documents could indicate which witnesses to testify and what questions to ask them, as well as whether other subpoenas should be issued to others,” argues the committee in its file.
The Archives and the House say allowing a former president to intervene even when two branches of government agree would be an unprecedented weakening of relations between Congress and the executive.
“In no other area, a former president can continue to dictate the exercise of governmental authority,” argued the National Archives in a brief written by lawyers from the Ministry of Justice.
“A former president, for example, does not have the capacity to block the decisions of his successor to declassify information that the former president has classified, to unveil a state secret claim he has made, to come out. of an international agreement it has entered into or to take any other action that might be contrary to an action it has taken, ”the Archives added.