(WASHINGTON) — A federal appeals court on Thursday temporarily blocked the release of White House records sought by a U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, granting — for now — a request from former President Donald Trump.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit has issued an administrative order that prohibits the release of any records until Friday. Oral arguments for the case were set by the appellate court for Nov. 30,
The court is granted a stay to allow it time to review arguments in the pivotal clash between former President Donald Trump and his supporters who stormed Capitol Hill on Jan. 6. It delays the House committee from reviewing records that lawmakers say could shed light on the events leading up to the insurrection and Trump’s efforts to delegitimize an election he lost.
The National Archives, which holds the documents, says they include call logs, handwritten notes and a draft executive order on “election integrity.”
Biden waived his executive privilege. Trump then went to court, asserting that the former president still had privilege over these records and that their release would be detrimental to the presidency’s future.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Tuesday rejected those arguments, noting in part, “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.” She again denied an emergency motion by Trump on Wednesday.
In their emergency filing to the appeals court, Trump’s lawyers wrote that without a stay, Trump would “suffer irreparable harm through the effective denial of a constitutional and statutory right to be fully heard on a serious disagreement between the former and incumbent President.”
The November 30 arguments will be heard before Robert Wilkins (ex-President Barack Obama) and Patricia Millett (an appointee to Biden).
Given the case’s magnitude, whichever side loses before the circuit court is likely to eventually appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The White House on Thursday also notified a lawyer for Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, that Biden would waive any executive privilege that would prevent Meadows from cooperating with the committee, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press. As part of their investigation, the committee subpoenaed Meadows as well as more than twenty-six other individuals.
His lawyer, George Terwilliger, issued a statement in response saying Meadows “remains under the instructions of former President Trump to respect longstanding principles of executive privilege.”
“It now appears the courts will have to resolve this conflict,” Terwilliger said.
The committee late Thursday threatened to begin contempt proceedings against Meadows if he doesn’t change course and comply.
“Simply put, there is no valid legal basis for Mr. Meadows’s continued resistance to the Select Committee’s subpoena,” the committee wrote to Terwilliger, saying it would view Meadows’ failure to turn over documents or appear at a scheduled deposition on Friday as “willful non-compliance.”
Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon has been referred to the Justice Department by the House for possible criminal prosecutions for contempt of Congress.
Report by Zeke Miller of the Associated Press and Mark Sherman.