By Katelyn Polantz, CNN Reporter, Crime and Justice
Former President Donald Trump is accusing the House select committee investigating January 6 of being so aggressive in its pursuit of his White House records that it could permanently damage the presidency, according to a court filing from his legal team on Wednesday.
Trump is appealing a lower court’s decision that his records should be turned over to the committee. The Biden administration and the US House are unified in opposing the former President’s efforts to keep the records secret, arguing that more than 700 pages including White House call logs and notes from his top advisers should be available to the probe.
A federal appeals court will hear oral arguments on November 30 in the historic case.
“The Appellees’ clear disdain for President Trump is leading them to a course of action that will result in permanent damage to the institution of the presidency,” lawyers for Trump wrote in their reply brief to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.
“A current president cannot destroy the confidentiality of Executive Branch communications and the important reliance interests attached to that confidentiality for his own political advantage to the detriment of his predecessors and successors,” they continued.
The Biden administration declined to assert executive privilege over the records, and Trump argues that could mean that future presidents decide to flout confidentiality in the White House if their predecessors are from a different political party.
The Biden administration has argued that all of the documents Trump is trying to keep secret will eventually be made public, under the National Archives’ approach to historical records, and that even if some documents could be privileged, the White House believes there is an “extraordinary” need for transparency when it comes to January 6.
Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan of the lower-level court ruled against Trump earlier this month, saying that he had no power to override the current administration’s decisions.
Trump, now arguing to the appeals court above her, says he should win the case and block the House committee as a “constitutional safeguard” and as a way to protect the executive privilege of the president. He also again asks for the court to look at the documents from his presidency page by page to determine what should stay protected — an approach that would almost certainly drag the document production out over several months or even years.
“The specific analysis of whether each record is properly producible must be completed document-by-document, and not by the scattergun approach advocated by Appellees and the district court,” Trump’s attorneys wrote on Wednesday.
The three-judge appellate panel that will hear the case is already questioning that approach. After receiving the first round of written legal briefs in the case, they asked on Tuesday if the attorneys involved could address during their oral arguments a question of whether the court has the ability to step into the dispute.
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