Judge Tanya Chutkan determined Trump does not have the authority to overrule President Biden’s decision to waive executive privilege and release the documents to Congress, Politico reported Tuesday night. The sought-after documents include files from Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, adviser Stephen Miller, and White House deputy counsel Patrick Philbin. They also contain call and visitor logs.
“Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” Judge Chutkan wrote in the ruling.
The National Archives has indicated it will turn over the material to the committee on Friday, barring court intervention. Lawyers for Trump immediately appealed Judge Chutkan’s decision. A spokesman said Trump “remains committed to defending the Constitution & the Office of the Presidency, & will be seeing this process through.”
Still, Tuesday’s ruling is a major victory for the Jan. 6 committee, which could soon have crucial access to once-private information about the Trump White House’s discussions and planning related to its massive disinformation and election sabotage effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election and deliver Trump a second term in office.
In Chutkan’s ruling, she outlined Trump’s concerted efforts to cast doubt on the election results, which included him urging his supporters to put pressure on state lawmakers to not certify Biden’s election victory. In the wake of those actions, Trump supporters headed to the Capitol, which was breached on Jan. 6, ending in violence. Hundreds involved have since been charged and arrested.
The Jan. 6 committee is investigating the root causes of the insurrection, including a look at whether Trump or anyone else within the government is to blame. Last summer, the committee requested the documents from the National Archives. Biden declined to invoke executive privilege to withhold them from the committee.
In response, Trump sued the Jan. 6 committee and the National Archives. He claimed that as a former president he should be granted executive privilege over the documents despite Biden’s decision, arguing that a Richard M. Nixon-era Supreme Court ruling decided presidents retain a “residual” interest in the confidentiality of their White House records. Trump on Monday night tried to preemptively ask for an administrative stay on Chutkan’s ruling … before she had even made it. Chutkan struck down the attempt in less than two hours, noting that she was moving “expeditiously” to come to a decision. She did so on Tuesday night, and it wasn’t in the former president’s favor.
“At bottom, this is a dispute between a former and incumbent President. And the Supreme Court has already made clear that in such circumstances, the incumbent’s view is accorded greater weight,” Chutkan wrote, citing the Nixon-era ruling.
The committee investigating Jan. 6 has recently issued subpoenas to several prominent Trump World figures — including senior adviser Stephen Miller, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, legal scholar John Eastman, Jason Miller, and more — signifying an acceleration in its inquiry into the causes of the Capitol attack.