The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Thursday granted an administrative stay sought by former President Donald Trump that will block the release of records pertaining to his action in the White House on January 6, when a mob of rioting terrorists attempted to stage a coup d’etat aimed at preventing Joe Biden from becoming president.
The stay resulted from Trump’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling ordering the National Archives to release the documents requested by a House committee investigating the plot to overthrough the Constitution of the United States.
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote 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.”
The federal appeals court only temporarily blocked Chutkan’s order, effectively delaying until the end of this month the release of records that were initially to be turned over Friday. The appeals court set arguments in the case for Nov. 30.
Those arguments will take place before three judges nominated by Democratic presidents: Patricia Millett and Robert Wilkins, nominated by former President Barack Obama, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, an appointee of Biden.
Chutkan ruled a week after she heard arguments from Trump’s lawyer to stop the National Archives from turning over Trump administration records to the House panel investigating the attack on the Capitol.
Trump contends the documents should be protected by executive privilege and that releasing them would cause irreparable harm.
Chutkan ruled that Trump’s right to claim executive privilege was diminished because he’s no longer in office and President Joe Biden had refused to assert it on his behalf.
She said that in order for a former president to claim executive privilege over records from his time in office, the request must be supported by the current president.
“Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” Chutkan wrote in her decision. “He retains the right to assert that his records are privileged, but the incumbent President ‘is not constitutionally obliged to honor’ that assertion.”
Congress has sought the records to help establish Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, in which a mob of Trump-loving terrorists ransacked the historic building, forced lawmakers into hiding and contributed to the deaths of at least five people.
The House is seeking Trump’s call logs, draft speeches, and other documents related to Jan. 6, searching for evidence that the nation’s top government official conspired or otherwise participated in the plot.
The Washington Post published a detailed account of the 187 harrowing minutes that Trump watched his supporters attack the Capitol — and resisted pleas to stop them.
According to a May 2021 estimate by the Architect of the Capitol, the attack caused approximately $1.5 million worth of damage to the U.S. Capitol building.
The mob threatened to hang Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the joint session of Congress as members were certifying Trump’s election defeat.
At least 675 defendants have been arrested for participating in the failed coup attempt, more than 210 of the terrorists have been charged with attacking one or more of the 140 police officers who were assaulted on Jan. 6 at the Capitol.
Only 40 terrorists have been charged with conspiracy, those defendants being members of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government, Pro-Trump extremist group. Prosecutors allege that members of the Oath Keepers conspired over the course of weeks and months to bring weapons to the Washington, D.C.-area and used military-style tactics to breach the building.
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 him from cooperating with the committee, which has subpoenaed Meadows and more than two dozen other people as part of its investigation.
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.
Trump’s effort to suppress documents related to Jan. 6 is his most recent attempt at obstructing the House panel’s investigation. Last month, Steve Bannon, a former Trump aide, refused to comply with a subpoena to testify at Trump’s direction.
The House voted to hold Bannon in criminal contempt and referred the case to the Justice Department, and on Friday, November 12, 2021, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced that Bannon was indicted today by a federal grand jury on two counts of contempt of Congress.
“Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law,” said Garland.
Of the roughly 130 people who have pleaded guilty so far, only 16 have admitted to felonies, and Chansley is the fourth felon to be sentenced.
The other three received terms of eight, 14 and last week a man who punched a Capitol police officer also received 41 months.
While 600 defendants have been charged with entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or grounds, none are accused of felony murder despite the five directly related deaths.
Only 65 individuals have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer, although 140 police officers were assaulted Jan. 6 at the Capitol.
About 40 defendants have been charged with conspiracy, but none of those Proud Boys have significant links to Trump, who after months of promoting the lie that the election had been stolen, whipped the mob into a frenzy with more lies and then told them to assault the Capitol.
At the rally on the Ellipse, Trump used the word “fight” numerous times, as in “fight like hell,” insisted they would never “take back their country with weakness” and, in a clear invitation to violence, told them that when elections are stolen “very different rules apply.”
Early in his speech he told the crowd in passing to be “peaceful” and “patriotic,” but then devoted the next 50 minutes to inflaming them with statements such as, “if you don’t fight like hell you are not going to have a country anymore.” Trump repeatedly told the mob to go to the Capitol and said he would accompany them, although he didn’t.