Court Issues Brief Hold on Release of Trump Files in Jan. 6 Inquiry

Congress had been set to receive the first batch of Trump White House files from the National Archives on Friday, a move that the former president has fought.


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WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court issued a short-term injunction on Thursday blocking the National Archives from turning over to Congress documents from the Trump White House related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, a day before the House committee investigating the attack was set to receive the first batch.

The move, by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, will preserve the status quo for now while lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump, Congress and the Biden administration submit briefs over the next two weeks and then hold arguments on Nov. 30. The briefs will address whether the court should further block any transfer of papers as the litigants turn to arguing over the merits of the case, which raises novel issues about an ex-president’s executive privilege powers.

The Jan. 6 committee has demanded detailed records about Mr. Trump’s movements and meetings on the day of the assault, when Mr. Trump led a “Stop the Steal” rally and his supporters then stormed the Capitol in an attempt to block Congress from certifying President Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Mr. Trump has invoked executive privilege over the first tranche of archival materials from his White House. But Mr. Biden has declined to echo that assertion, instead instructing the National Archives to turn over those materials on Friday if there were no court order to do otherwise.

Last month, Mr. Trump sued the National Archives and Congress in an attempt to block that production. Earlier this week, a Federal District Court judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, rejected Mr. Trump’s challenge — and declined as well a request by Mr. Trump’s lawyer that she nevertheless block the National Archives from turning over the files while the former president pursued an appeal of her ruling.

Mr. Trump’s legal team then asked the appeals court for the brief pause, while proposing an expedited schedule for briefing on whether the court should issue a lengthier injunction during the appeal. Lawyers for Congress and the Biden Justice Department, which is representing the National Archives, took no position on the request for the brief pause.

The appeals court gave Mr. Trump more time than his lawyers had asked for. They had proposed a schedule that would wrap up briefing next week.

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