A late-night federal court order could mean trouble for former President Donald Trump’s effort to assert executive privilege over documents targeted by a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, NBC News reported.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Tuesday notified lawyers for Trump, the House panel, and the National Archives they should be ready to address whether the federal court even has the legal authority to hear the dispute, the news outlet reported.
Oral arguments are set for Nov. 30.
The House committee investigating the attack has asked the National Archives to turn over scores of Trump administration documents — including memos, emails, records of White House conversations, and visitor logs.
Though Trump claimed executive privilege over some of the material, President Joe Biden said the records should be released, citing the importance of the bipartisan committee’s work.
A federal judge then ordered the Archives to hand over the material but the appeals court granted a stay to take a longer look at the issue.
“The fact that the [appeals] court is wondering about its own authority to take up the case is telling: Courts are typically protective of their jurisdictions,” NBC News’ Pete Williams wrote.
The court cited a 2001 case involving a challenge to the plans for the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington; Congress had passed a law saying no court could review the plans, Williams reported. An appeals court tossed the lawsuit.
“If the appeals court were to take similar action in Trump’s case, he could appeal to the Supreme Court. But if his lawsuit is ultimately dismissed, it would pave the way for the Jan. 6 committee to get documents from the Archives,” Williams wrote.
According to NBC News, Tuesday night’s order also directed the lawyers to be ready to answer a second question: “If so, what effect, if any, do [those provisions] have on the subject matter jurisdiction of the district court to adjudicate any of the requests listed in the Complaint’s Claim for Relief?”
NBC News reported that lawyers for Trump have argued the congressional committee had no proper legislative purpose for seeking his White House records and launched the probe to “intimidate and harass President Trump and his closest advisors under the guise of investigating the events of January 6, 2021.”
The House panel countered it needs the records “to complete a thorough investigation into how the actions of the former President, his advisers, and other government officials may have contributed to the attack on Congress to impede the peaceful transfer of Presidential power,” the news outlet reported.