Donald Trump may be on his own planet in terms of understanding what is legal or constitutional in the United States, but Judge Tanya Chutkan brought him down to earth late Monday night after promptly rejecting the former president’s last-minute bid to keep records sought by the Jan. 6th Committee shrouded.
Trump sued the committee as well as the National Archives in October following an earlier subpoena from congressional investigators demanding a litany of records related to Trump’s activities before, during and after the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Though Trump cited executive privilege over the records, President Joe Biden stepped in and with a letter from White House Counsel Dana Remus, declined to honor the claim and cited instead the “extraordinary circumstances” involved in examining “an assault on the Constitution and democratic institutions provoked and fanned by those sworn to protect them.”
The National Archives has indicated the twice-impeached, single term president is trying to block roughly 750 pages of some 1,500 pages already collected by the archives at the committee’s behest. National Archivist David Ferriero agreed to turn over any documents amassed no later than this Friday, Nov. 12, barring an intervention by the court.
But with the clock running down and this week already interrupted by a federal holiday that shutters the court— Veteran’s Day—Trump just before midnight on Monday filed the urgent relief request asking Chutkan to not only block the committee from receiving the records as “novel constitutional and statutory issues” are considered but further and bizarrely, to approve an “administrative stay” of her ruling before she even issued it.
Trump’s attorney Jesse Binnall then doubled down in the request writing to Chutkan: “Should this court refuse President Trump’s injunction, he will promptly seek appellate relief.”
While Trump’s team was sweating the deadline, Chutkan was apparently burning the midnight oil and responded to the request in short order, calling it “premature” and against rules for relief which, she said, “plainly requires an interlocutory order or final judgment before considering such motions.”
The court, she added, intends to rule “expeditiously” on the matter.
The late-night development was first reported by Politico.
According to court records, among the hundreds of pages sought after by the committee, Trump is trying to hide dozens of pages of daily presidential diaries, schedules, appointment information showing visitors to the White House activity logs, call logs and switchboard shift-change checklists showing calls to himself and former Vice President Mike Pence. Drafts of speeches, remarks and correspondence concerning the events of Jan. 6 and at least three handwritten notes related to Jan. 6 from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows files are also on Trump’s list of “to-block” documents.
Trump is trying to shield talking points housed in White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s binder related to allegations of voter fraud, election security and the 2020 election as well and he seeks to hide a draft of a “presidential speech for the Save America March” on Jan. 6.
Trump has also claimed privilege over a draft executive order “concerning election integrity and a draft proclamation honoring U.S. Capitol Police officers Brian Sicknick and Howard Liebengood. Sicknick died after sustaining injuries during the melee at the Capitol. The longtime officer, according to D.C. Chief Medical Examiner Francisco Diaz, endured two strokes about eight hours after being repeatedly sprayed with a chemical irritant during the assault. Though Sicknick’s death was listed as natural causes, U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement this April he “This does not change the fact Officer Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.”
Liebengood, a 15-year veteran of the force, took his own life just a few days after the siege.
Trump also seeks to block emails from the Office of the Executive Clerk related to the committee’s interest in the White House’s response to the Capitol attack. That office specifically handles all legal documents signed by a president that comprise that president’s official acts and duties, including things like vetoes, public laws, pardons and certificates. It also is the entity responsible for transmitting messages from the president to Congress.