A US district judge denied former US President Donald Trump’s subpoena for “missing materials.” Trump’s Motion for Pretrial Rule 17(c) Subpoena requested seven non-party individuals which included records from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol. Trump was seeking to subpoena Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the January 6 committee, White House counsel Richard Sauber and others in connection with the January 6 investigation. Here, the judge found Trump’s claim of missing materials to be an overly broad and vague request on Monday, comparing it to a “fishing expedition.”
Rule 17(c) is a 3-prong test that requires a request to be relevant, admissible and specific. The federal judge here did not find Trump to meet these burdens, noting that the documents sought were from “broad categories of documents.” The legal standard that governs Trump’s subpoena is the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 17(c), which states courts “may direct that books, papers, documents or objects designated in the subpoena be produced before the court at a time prior to the trial.” While this rule was meant to speed up the discovery process, it was not meant “to provide a means of discovery for criminal cases.” Here the federal judge applied this rule in denying Trump’s motion as a “fishing expedition”, stating:
Accordingly, Rule 17(c) subpoenas are not appropriate where the moving party seeks materials ‘procurable reasonably in advance of trial by exercise of due diligence,’ or operate ‘as a general ‘fishing expedition’…Courts must be careful that rule 17(c) is not turned into a broad discovery device, thereby undercutting the strict limitation of discovery in criminal cases found in Fed. R. Crim. P. 16.
This comes after Trump was indicted in August on various 2020 election interference charges.