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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Capitol riot: Court temporarily blocks release of Trump files

ART GALLERY

A US appeals court has temporarily denied a bid by US Capitol riot investigators to access ex-President Donald Trump’s White House records.

The decision comes two days after a court ordered that the documents be turned over to the congressional committee overseeing the investigation.

Lawmakers are investigating whether Mr. Trump was aware of the riot.

On January 6, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building as Congress met to certify the election results.

Mr. Trump has refused to acknowledge losing the election to President Joe Biden last year, claiming – without evidence – that there was widespread voter fraud.

The investigation is being carried out by a House of Representatives committee led by President Biden’s Democrats.

The committee wants to see phone records, visitor logs, and other White House documents that could shed light on the events that led up to the attack on Congress.

However, on Thursday, the US Court of Appeals in Washington put a temporary halt to a lower court’s order that the trove be turned over by Friday.

The appeals court said it will hold a hearing on November 30. According to US media, the case will be heard by three judges chosen at random. Democratic presidents all appointed all three.

In their emergency filing to the appeals court, Mr Trump’s lawyers stated that their client could “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 legal battle will almost certainly end up before the Supreme Court.

Mr Trump, a Republican, has claimed that his White House communications were shielded by executive privilege, which allows presidential documents to be kept private. Mr. Biden, on the other hand, has waived executive privilege on the files.

On Tuesday, US District Judge Tanya Chutkan dismissed Mr Trump’s argument, writing in a 39-page decision, “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”

In the last week, the House Select Committee has issued dozens of subpoenas, requiring many former Trump officials to turn over documents and testify about the riot.

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s senior adviser, Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser, are among those named.

Mr Meadows informed the committee on Thursday that he would refuse to cooperate until a final court decision was issued. The committee’s top investigator threatened him with criminal contempt charges as a result of his actions.

Following the Capitol riot, Mr Trump was impeached by the lower house of Congress but cleared of inciting an insurgency by the upper house, which was then dominated by Republicans.

More than 670 people have been arrested in connection with the Capitol complex invasion.

SourceBBC
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