Trump files lawsuit to withhold documents relating to US Capitol riot
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Trump files lawsuit to withhold documents relating to US Capitol riot

Former US President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia against the US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. The committee, responsible for investigating the insurrection at the US Capitol, is joined in the lawsuit by the National Archives and Records Administration, committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, and National Archivist David Ferriero.

The lawsuit aims to block the attempt by the committee to obtain documents relating to the attack. Trump is claiming executive privilege to keep records from his presidency secret. This opposition comes in the form of about 40 documents. Trump’s lawyers claim that the committee’s request is nothing more than an “illegal fishing expedition.”

Trump’s lawyers continue to assert that the committee’s requests are unprecedented and that they serve no legitimate legislative purpose. To support this claim, the lawsuit refers back to a 2020 Supreme Court case it says is analogous, where the court sent the House of Representative’s subpoenas for Trump’s tax records back to the lower court for a separation of powers analysis.

However, the two cases are different. Here, the lawsuit centers around documents generated by the presidency, during the presidency, while the former case concerned Trump’s personal financial matters. On top of this, the Supreme Court never held that the subpoena was invalid or that Congress did not have the authority to obtain it. Rather, as former Senate lawyer Jeffrey Robbins explained, it simply stated that extreme deference is given to Congress in conducting investigations and determining what is within the scope of its own authority.

Trump is hoping that this current lawsuit follows the same path as his previous one. The prior tax lawsuit stalled the House of Representatives from obtaining the records until after he left office, records the House of Representatives still does not have. This lawsuit could be similar, as the documents related to January 6 could get pushed past the next congressional election cycle.

As of right now, Trump has a few weeks to convince a court to step in and issue a ruling. The National Archives gave Trump notice that it would be turning over the records he wishes to keep secret on November 12, barring a court interference. The National Archives said it corresponded with both the Justice Department and the White House regarding the issue.