Judges grill Trump lawyers trying to block Jan. 6 probe from getting White House records

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  • Judges told lawyers for former President Donald Trump in his bid to block White House communications and other records from lawmakers investigating the deadly Capitol invasion.
  • The House Select Committee looked for documents as part of an investigation into the riots when hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.
  • Trump’s lawyers argue that some of those records should be protected by executive privilege, the principle that allows certain executive branch communications to be kept confidential.

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A skeptical-looking panel of federal judges on Tuesday told lawyers for former President Donald Trump about his bid to block White House communications and other records from releasing lawmakers investigating the deadly Capitol invasion.

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Trump filed a lawsuit against the House Select Committee, which seeks documents as part of an investigation into the riots, when hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and temporarily forced Congress into the 2020 election. President Joe Biden stopped from confirming the victory.

Trump’s lawyers argue that some of those records should be protected by executive privilege, the principle that allows certain executive branch communications to be kept confidential. They argue that Trump’s claim of privilege should exceed the decision of the current president, Biden, to waive the privilege on the documents.

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Lawyers have asked the appeals court to reverse the opinion of a federal judge, who ruled that the National Archives is allowed to submit the disputed records to a selection committee.

“It all depends on who makes the decision,” Judge Ketanji Jackson said during an oral argument in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. “Who decides whether it is in the best interest of the United States to disclose the President’s record? Is it a current occupant of the White House or a former?”

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Arguments, which went on for nearly two hours on Tuesday morning, were heard by a panel of three judges on the DC circuit in what was seen as an ominous draw for Trump. The two judges, Robert Wilkins and Patricia Millett, were appointed by former President Barack Obama, while Jackson was appointed by President Joe Biden.

Trump’s efforts to withhold the disputed documents came after a January 6 select committee pressured aides of the former president to cooperate with an investigation into the Capitol riots. A Trump aide, former White House adviser Steve Bannon, was held in contempt by the House and indicted on charges stemming from his refusal to comply with the committee’s summons for his testimony. He has pleaded not guilty.

The panel is taking similar moves against former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, with members set to vote Wednesday evening to recommend Clarke in contempt of the House. Committee members have threatened to do the same for Mark Meadows, Trump’s White House chief of staff.

This is developing news. Please check back for updates.

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