Trump White House records can be given to Capitol attack panel, judge rules

Trump lawyers vow to appeal move, which would allow transmission of documents as soon as this week

A federal judge in Washington has ruled that hundreds of pages of White House records from the Trump administration can be turned over to the House committee investigating the deadly 6 January attack on the Capitol, defying objections from Donald Trump.

The decision, handed down late on Tuesday by the US district judge Tanya Chutkan, clears the way for the National Archives, the federal agency holding Trump’s White House materials, to start transmitting the records requested by Congress as early as Friday, though attorneys for Trump immediately vowed to appeal the ruling.

Trump sued to block the release of materials, claiming presidential executive privilege.

But Chutkan stated: “His 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’... but presidents are not kings, and plaintiff is not president.”

In her ruling, she further said: “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 January 6,” Chutkan wrote in a 39-page opinion that delivered a major win to the select committee.

The White House records in question are among the most sensitive: visitor logs, telephone records and other documents from the files of Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows as well as the former deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin.

Among the materials the committee wants to access are video clips, including out-takes of the video Trump taped on the evening of 6 January, when he asked rioters to go home but he also praised them, saying: “We love you, you’re very special.”

A source that was present during the taping of that video told ABC News that there were many earlier takes of the president’s message but they were rejected for broadcast because the president heaped praise on the insurrectionists without telling them to leave the Capitol and grounds, the Good Morning America show reported on Wednesday.

In total, the National Archives has indicated Trump was invoking executive privilege protections to block the release of at least 750 pages of records that pertained to the select committee’s request in August for records about Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election, including events surrounding the attack on the Capitol by a crowd of his extremist supporters on 6 January.

The Biden administration has already waived executive privilege for all of the documents in the first tranche of records requested by the select committee, but Trump sued the panel and the National Archives last month in an attempt to halt their release.

House investigators have been pursuing the records for weeks as they undertake a far-reaching inquiry into the extent of the former president’s involvement in the Capitol attack and whether he had advance knowledge of the insurrection that left five dead and 140 injured.

Bennie Thompson, the chair of the investigating committee and a Democratic congressman from Mississippi, said the federal judge’s ruling was a “big deal”.

“We have the law on our side, and you know, we are a nation of laws,” Thompson told CNN.

The ruling from the US district court in Washington DC came after the select committee issued 10 new subpoenas to Trump administration officials, including Trump’s former senior adviser Stephen Miller and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

The subpoenas, which demand documents and testimony, are focused squarely on activities involving the White House and come a day after the select committee subpoenaed other top Trump associates who aimed to undercut the results of the 2020 election.

The select committee gave the 10 Trump officials until 23 November to comply with the document requests in the subpoena, with deposition dates scheduled through December. It was not immediately clear on Tuesday whether any of the officials would cooperate.


Hugo Lowell in Washington

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Capitol attack panel votes to subpoena Trump – ‘the central cause of January 6’
The committee expressed it had ‘no doubt’ the ex-president led the effort to overturn the election

David Smith in Washington

13, Oct, 2022 @9:32 PM

Article image
Trump tore up records turned over to House Capitol attack committee
National Archives says it received ripped-up documents from White House before turning them over to Congress

Martin Pengelly in New York

01, Feb, 2022 @6:57 PM

Article image
House panel says Trump ‘chose not to act’ during attack on US Capitol
Committee investigating January 6 riots shared testimony showing that ex-president rejected pleas from even his family

Joan E Greve in Washington

22, Jul, 2022 @5:35 AM

Article image
Democrats to open Trump impeachment trial by recounting Capitol attack
Impeachment managers will present scene in harrowing detail using video and audio recordings

Lauren Gambino in Washington

08, Feb, 2021 @11:06 PM

Article image
House panel showed Trump conspired to seize the election – but was it illegal?
Panel lays out its case that the 45th president orchestrated a plot to keep himself in office, but its work is not done

Lauren Gambino in Washington

22, Jul, 2022 @2:48 PM

Article image
Ex-White House aide delivers explosive public testimony to January 6 panel
Cassidy Hutchinson tells committee Trump knowingly directed armed supporters to march to the Capitol

Lauren Gambino and Hugo Lowell in Washington

29, Jun, 2022 @1:53 PM

Article image
House panel gathers mountain of evidence in Capitol attack investigation
Panel on track to interview more than 300 witnesses, chair says, with more than 30,000 documents already turned over

Hugo Lowell in Washington DC

15, Dec, 2021 @7:00 AM

Article image
House Capitol attack panel issues subpoena to top Trump official Jeffrey Clark – as it happened
In targeting the justice department official the committee is escalating its inquiry into the 6 January insurrection – follow live updates

Maanvi Singh and Johana Bhuiyan (now), and Lauren Gambino (earlier)

14, Oct, 2021 @12:01 AM

Article image
Capitol attack panel to unveil new evidence against Trump at public hearings
Committee intends to reveal previously secret White House records, photos and videos to prove how Trump broke the law

Hugo Lowell in Washington

06, Jun, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Capitol panel to investigate Trump call to Willard hotel in hours before attack
Committee to request contents of the call seeking to stop Biden’s certification and may subpoena Rudy Giuliani

Hugo Lowell in Washington

27, Dec, 2021 @10:00 AM