A federal judge on Thursday threw cold water on former President Donald Trump’s arguments that he can keep White House documents related to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol secret from House investigators.
As previously reported by The Daily Boulder, Trump has asked the DC District Court to block the National Archives from giving more than 700 pages of documents to the House Select Committee investigating January 6 and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, claiming that the House’s investigation is illegitimate, and that his role as a former President grants him executive privilege over the documents.
During a historic court hearing on Thursday morning, however, Judge Tanya Chutkan expressed deep skepticism of Trump’s claim, pressing his lawyers on why, as a former President, he has any right to control the public access to hundreds of pages of records, especially as Congress investigates the deadly insurrection, CNN reports.
“Are you really saying that the President’s notes, talking points, telephone conversations, on January 6, have no relation to the matter on which Congress is considering legislation?” Chutkan asked, according to CNN. “The January 6 riot happened in the Capitol. That is literally Congress’ house,” she added.
CNN reported that “Chutkan also harshly questioned Trump’s request for the court to look at every document one by one — ‘You’re talking years,’ she said.
“Congress here has not requested private information,” Chutkan said. “These documents are sought to further Congress’ oversight into the events of January 6. They only seek documents concerning governmental activity.”
Chutkan also challenged the House Democrats’ lawyer on the scope of the documents that were requested by the committee —a key issue, because the former President has claimed the request was so massive that it is clearly a political fishing expedition, CNN reported.
While Chutkan acknowledged that “some of these requests seem very narrowly tailored,” she said on a few occasions during the hearing that other parts of the committee’s request covered a wide scope of records, saying it was “alarmingly broad,” “very broad,” and “really broad.”
Congress has broad authority to demand documents, but “there has to be some limit,” she said.