WASHINGTON – A federal judge refused Wednesday to block a House committee’s access to Donald Trump’s presidential records while he appeals a previous decision by the judge on those same documents.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected the emergency request to keep the documents confidential while the case is argued. She had ruled late Tuesday against an injunction after finding President Joe Biden’s decision to allow access to the documents outweighed the former president’s interest in keeping them confidential.
““Were the court to grant Plaintiff’s motion, the effect would be ‘to give [Plaintiff] the fruits of victory whether or not the appeal has merit,’” Chutkan wrote in her ruling. “Plaintiff is not entitled to injunctive relief simply because the procedural posture of this case has shifted.”
Trump appealed her decision to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. But without at least a temporary injunction, the National Archives and Records Administration is set to release the records Friday to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
Trump’s lawyer, Jesse Binnall, argued that the former president would suffer irreparable harm if the documents are released and that novel questions are at stake in the case.
“Such a result would not only injure President Trump, but also future presidents by chilling advice given by presidential aides,” Binnall said in his legal filing.
But Trump wasn’t entitled to the “exceptional remedy” of an injunction because the House committee “urgently needs access to the documents” to “investigate an unprecedented attack on Congress itself,” according to Douglas Letter, the House counsel.
Justice Department lawyers for David Ferriero, the archivist, argued that Trump has no personal interest in the records and that Biden has determined there would be no injury warranting the withholding of the documents.
The House committee is investigating what led to the deadly insurrection and what happened on Jan. 6, with a goal of preventing another attack. More than 600 people face criminal charges after a mob stormed the Capitol and temporarily halted the counting of Electoral College votes that confirmed Biden won the 2020 election. About 140 police officers were injured in the attack, and police shot a woman to death outside the House chamber.