WASHINGTON ― A federal judge late Tuesday denied Donald Trump’s attempt to block the release of hundreds of pages of documents from his presidency to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol
“Plaintiff is unlikely to succeed on the merits of his claims or suffer irreparable harm, and because a balance of the equities and public interest bear against granting his requested relief,” wrote U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan. “But Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”
Less than two hours after her ruling, Trump lawyer Jesse Binnall filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to stop Friday’s scheduled release of the first batch of documents by the National Archives to the committee.
Trump, who tried to overthrow American democracy to remain in power despite losing his 2020 election by 7 million votes, has been trying to use the concept of “executive privilege” to keep secret his involvement in the planning of the attack and his actions during the hours it took place.
The President was his successor. Joe BidenHe has stated through White House General Counsel that it is inappropriate for a legal principle that is based on Constitution to conceal an attack on this document.
Chutkan, who had appeared deeply skeptical of Trump’s legal arguments during a hearing last week, laid out her reasoning in a 39-page opinion that rejected each of Trump’s assertions.
“First, the incumbent President has already spoken to the compelling public interest in ensuring that the Select Committee has access to the information necessary to complete its investigation,” she wrote. “Accordingly, the court holds that the public interest lies in permitting — not enjoining — the combined will of the legislative and executive branches to study the events that led to and occurred on January 6, and to consider legislation to prevent such events from ever occurring again.”
Chutkan, on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, also wrote that Trump’s public behavior in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 riot was important to consider.
“In the months preceding the 2020 presidential election, Plaintiff declared that the only way he could lose would be if the election were ‘rigged,’” she wrote. “On January 6, Plaintiff spoke at the rally at the Ellipse, during which he (1) repeated claims, rejected by numerous courts, that the election was ‘rigged’ and ‘stolen’; (2) urged then Vice President Pence, who was preparing to convene Congress to tally the electoral votes, ‘to do the right thing’ by rejecting certain states’ electors and declining to certify the election for President Joseph R. Biden; and (3) told protesters to ‘walk down to the Capitol’ to ‘give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country,’ ‘we fight. It is hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,’ and ‘you’ll never take back our country with weakness.’”
HuffPost did not receive any comment from Binnall or his spokespersons.
Trump was the first American president to reject peacefully handing over power to his successor after 232 years.
He spent weeks attacking the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 contest he lost, starting his lies in the predawn hours of Nov. 4 that he had really won in a “landslide” and that his victory was being “stolen” from him. These lies were repeated in the midst of a string of unsuccessful lawsuits challenging his results in just a few states.
Trump and some of his advisers even discussed using the U.S. military by invoking the Insurrection Act or by declaring martial law to retain power despite having lost the presidential election, including by seizing voting machines and ordering “re-votes” in states narrowly won by Biden.
But military leaders had earlier made it clear they would not involve themselves in the political process, so after the Electoral College finally voted on Dec. 14, making Biden’s win official, Trump instead turned to a last-ditch scheme to pressure his vice president into canceling the ballots of millions of voters in several states Biden won and declaring Trump the winner during the pro forma congressional certification of the election results on Jan. 6.
Trump invited his followers to Washington on that day, and then told thousands of people who came to the Capitol to be intimidated. Mike PenceTrump’s will to do what he wanted. “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules,” Trump said.
His supporters organized a mob and stormed the building to fulfill his demands. They even chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after the vice president refused to comply with Trump’s demands.
After being attacked during the uprising, a police officer was killed. Four other officers also died in the weeks and days that followed. A rioter was shot to death as she tried to climb through a window and into the anteroom, which contained still-evacuating House members. Three others died in the chaos.
Although Trump was impeached by the House for inciting the attack the House did not execute him. All but seven Senate members were impeached. Republicans, led by then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, chose not to convict him ― thereby letting Trump continue his political career even as faces several investigations into his postelection actions.
Trump and his associates now engage in a campaign for Ashli Babbitt (the rioter shot), to be portrayed as a martyr. They also want to paint hundreds of other political persecution victims who were detained as prisoners of war as martyrs. Trump himself continues to suggest he will run for the 2024 GOP nomination and is using his Save America committee’s money to continue spreading the same falsehoods that culminated in the violence of Jan. 6.