For more than 10 months, authorities and government agencies have been attempting to get to the bottom of what role—if any—Donald Trump had in the violent insurrection that took place at the Capitol Building on January 6th. And at every turn, the former president has used whatever excuse he can come up with (the phrase “executive privilege” has been mentioned on more than one occasion) to avoid being put in the hotseat. But U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan—the same person who laughed out loud last week when Trump’s lawyers filed a legal brief falsely stating that The Donald had been cleared of any January 6th misdeeds—proved yet again that she is not playing when it comes to the January 6th Committee’s investigation.
According to The Washington Post, Team Trump has been holding onto hundreds of pages of documents that the January 6th Committee wants, and using every excuse in the book not to hand them over. In a 39-page opinion, Judge Chutkan wrote that the agencies requesting these documents “contend that discovering and coming to terms with the causes underlying the January 6 attack is a matter of unsurpassed public importance because such information relates to our core democratic institutions and the public’s confidence in them. The court agrees.”
Team Trump, unsurprisingly, immediately filed an appeal. Taylor Budowich, Trump’s spokesperson, issued a statement on the former president’s behalf—on Twitter, of course—which said: “The battle to defend Executive Privilege for Presidents past, present & future—from its outset—was destined to be decided by the Appellate Courts. Pres. Trump remains committed to defending the Constitution & the Office of the Presidency, & will be seeing this process through.”
The battle to defend Executive Privilege for Presidents past, present & future—from its outset—was destined to be decided by the Appellate Courts. Pres. Trump remains committed to defending the Constitution & the Office of the Presidency, & will be seeing this process through.
— Taylor Budowich (@TayFromCA) November 10, 2021
Chutkan, however, seemed to have intuited that response, as she addressed what she knew might be a sticking point in her ruling by essentially stating: There can only be one president at a time, and Trump ain’t it. And since the Biden administration has already approved the release of these requested documents, Chutkan’s opinion states that Trump’s “assertion of privilege is outweighed by President Biden’s decision not to uphold the privilege, and the court will not second guess that decision.”
Midway through her argument, Chutkan delivered the biggest blow when she wrote that:
“Presidents are not kings, and [Trump] is not President. He retains the right to assert that his records are privileged, but the incumbent President ‘is not constitutionally obliged to honor’ that assertion.”
As for Trump’s contention that what is being requested of him is “unprecedented,” Judge Chutkan stopped that argument in its tracks, noting that:
“[H]istory is replete with examples of past Presidents declining to assert the privilege. From President Nixon permitting the unrestricted congressional testimony of present and former White House staff members, 5 to President Ronald Reagan’s decision to authorize testimony and the production of documents related to the IranContra affair, including information about his communications and decision-making process,6 to President George W. Bush’s decision to sit for an interview with the 9/11 Commission to answer questions about his decision-making process in the wake of the attack, 7 past Presidents have balanced the executive branch’s interest in maintaining confidential communications against the public’s interest in the requested information.”
Your move, Donald.
You can read all 39 pages of Chutkan’s opinion here.
(Via The Washington Post)