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Trump ordered to produce records on Jan. 6 insurrection

If it survives appeal, the decision will clear the way for nearly 800 pages of documents regarding the Capitol riot to move into the hands of a select House committee investigating the attempted coup. 

WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal judge rejected a request from former President Donald Trump to block the National Archives from giving documents to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. 

In her 39-page-opinion issued late Tuesday night, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutakn called it a matter of public interest for Trump to turn over the documents that he says contain conversations with foreign leaders and sensitive national security secrets. 

“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,” wrote Chutkan, an Obama appointee. 

Trump sued the Jan. 6 select committee and the National Archives in October, claiming that the committee’s request for Jan. 6 records was overly broad and illegal, and that he has executive privilege — or a right to shield certain documents from the public’s view — even though he is out of office. The committee had requested records regarding Trump’s communications and activities leading up to and during the riot. 

Chutkan disagreed. She agreed that Trump’s executive privilege might extend beyond his tenure in office but said President Joe Biden is “best positioned” to evaluate the interests of the executive branch. 

Biden has declined to claim executive privilege for the documents, Chutkan noted, and his interest is weighted more heavily than Trump’s. 

"Plaintiff does not acknowledge the deference owed to the incumbent President’s judgment. His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power 'exists in perpetuity,’” Chutkan wrote. "But Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”

Trump appealed the decision Wednesday morning. If it survives appeal, the first batch of Jan. 6 records will be turned over to the House Select Committee shortly after. 

“The battle to defend Executive Privilege for Presidents past, present & future — from its outset — was destined to be decided by the Appellate Courts,” Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich wrote in a statement on Twitter. “Pres. Trump remains committed to defending the Constitution & the Office of the Presidency, & will be seeing this process through.”

Trump has vigorously fought to disrupt the House’s investigation into the circumstances that led up to Jan. 6, including having previously attempted to block former aides from testifying in the probe. 

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