The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday to reject former President Donald Trump‘s bid to block the National Archives from turning over his administration’s records to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
The three-judge panel unanimously rejected the arguments by the former president’s lawyers that their client could assert executive privilege to prevent the current administration from sharing the Trump White House’s documents with the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.
“The central question in this case is whether, despite the exceptional and imperative circumstances underlying the Committee’s request and President (Joe) Biden’s decision, a federal court can, at the former President’s behest, override President Biden’s decision not to invoke privilege and prevent his release to Congress of documents in his possession that he deems to be needed for a critical legislative inquiry,” Judge Patricia Millett wrote in a 68-page opinion for the panel.
“On the record before us, former President Trump has provided no basis for this court to override President Biden’s judgment and the agreement and accommodations worked out between the Political Branches over these documents,” read the opinion.
“Both Branches agree that there is a unique legislative need for these documents and that they are directly relevant to the Committee’s inquiry into an attack on the Legislative Branch and its constitutional role in the peaceful transfer of power,” the opinion said.
The court said the transfer of the records could begin in 14 days, before which Trump is allowed to ask the Supreme Court to intervene in the case.
Immediately following the ruling, the Trump team vowed to appeal it. “Regardless of today’s decision by the appeals court, this case was always destined for the Supreme Court. President Trump’s duty to defend the Constitution and the Office of the Presidency continues, and he will keep fighting for every American and every future Administration,” said Liz Harrington, Trump’s spokesperson.
The House Select Committee applauded the ruling in a statement.
“We applaud the Court’s decisive ruling, which respects the Select Committee’s interest in obtaining White House records and the President’s judgment in allowing those records to be produced,” panel Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice-Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said.
Trump in October sued the House Jan. 6 committee and the National Archives to stop the Biden administration from allowing the release of his White House’s documents related to the insurrection on Capitol Hill.