Judge Seems Skeptical of Trump’s Effort to Protect Jan. 6 Docs

Judge Seems Skeptical of Trump's Effort to Protect Jan. 6 Docs protesters outside of the capitol on january sixth (AP)

By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 04 November 2021 02:24 PM

A federal judge Thursday questioned former President Donald Trump's efforts in claiming executive privilege over documents that the House Jan. 6 select committee is seeking.

U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan suggested she had reservations about granting the former president's motion for an injunction to shield the material, The Hill reported.

"Are you really saying that the president's notes, talking points, telephone conversations on Jan. 6, for example, have no relation to the matter on which Congress is considering legislation?" Chutkan asked one of Trump's lawyers during a hearing on efforts to shield the documents.

"The January riots happened in the Capitol, that is literally Congress's house."

Chutkan, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, began hearing arguments on whether lawmakers on Speaker Nancy Pelosi's partisan Jan. 6 committee can be granted executive branch records that would detail the whereabouts and who Trump spoke with in the days leading up to attack on the Capitol.

The judge also expressed reservations about the breadth of documents the committee sought.

"Congress certainly has broad authority to determine the facts before it decides what legislation it may enact but there has to be some limits," she told the House's attorney representing the committee.

Democrats' top attorney Doug Letter admitted some of the requests were broad, but said "that's for Congress to decide," and added the federal courts should not tell lawmakers how they should run their inquiry, CNN reported.

The case weighs unsettled legal questions on the scope of Congress' investigative authority as well as Trump's ability to protect documents from the legislative branch, The Hill said.

Trump sued the select committee and the National Archives and Records Administration last month after the panel requested long lists of records.

Under federal law, President Joe Biden is the caretaker of Trump administration records in the possession of NARA. Biden, though, waived executive privilege over all of the documents.

Trump argues his own assertions of executive privilege protect certain records from being released.

The NARA faces a Nov. 12 deadline to begin delivering documents to the committee.