A federal appeals court rebuffed former President Donald Trump’s attempt Thursday to fight the release of records to the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot — cueing up appeals that may reach the Supreme Court.
The three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that “a rare and formidable alignment of factors supports the disclosure of the documents at issue.” Each of the judges on the panel were appointed to the federal appeals bench by President Biden or his former boss, President Barack Obama.
Trump is fighting Biden’s decision to allow the National Archives to hand over a cache of records to a House select committee investigating why a wild mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to disrupt the count of electoral votes from the 2020 election.
Trump calls the committee’s work a “witch hunt” and his supporters point out that each member of the panel, including the body’s two Republican members, voted to impeach Trump for allegedly inciting the riot.
Trump filed a lawsuit in October to halt the release of the documents.
He wrote in a letter to the National Archives that an initial tranche of records sought by the committee could number “in the millions” and can’t be released because of legal protections “including but not limited to the presidential communications, deliberative process, and attorney-client privileges.”
The Biden administration declined to assert executive privilege over the records — a rare move by a current president.
US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan last month ordered the Archives to hand over the records, which include phone logs, speech drafts and other written evidence, writing, “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”
The court fight unfolds as Republicans campaign to flip control of the House in next year’s midterm elections. Democrats hold a narrow majority and a president’s party typically loses seats in midterms. If Republicans retake the House, they’re expected to disband the select committee upon taking office in January 2023.