Trumps Gets Last-Minute Reprieve From January 6 Documents' Release

Former President Donald Trump has successfully blocked, at least temporarily, the release of documents in the January 6 investigation.

On Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted Trump's emergency motion for an injunction preventing the release of documents he believes are confidential and privileged. The National Archives was set to release dozens of documents, including communications Trump had with various people, to a House select committee on Friday evening, but it is now prevented from doing so until Trump's appeal is heard.

President Joe Biden signed off on releasing the documents to the committee, which is investigating the January 6 Capitol riot, something Trump has argued he didn't have the power to do. The former president asserts that the documents are covered by executive privilege and filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block their release.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled against Trump. Her ruling largely focused on the fact that Trump is not the president anymore and maintained that the current president, Biden, is the best person to decide if the documents should retain their privileged status.

donald trump january 6 capitol riot
Former President Donald Trump has successfully blocked documents from being released to the House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot. Above, Trump addresses supporters during a "Save America" rally on August 21 in Cullman, Alabama. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Trump attorney Jesse Binnall pushed back against Chutkan's assertion that Biden's decision should be given preference in the case, telling her in a court hearing last Thursday that "the former president has rights."

Trump has accused Biden of allowing for the documents' release as part of a political maneuver to appease his allies, while the White House has criticized Trump for abusing the office of the presidency.

"The former president's actions represented a unique—and existential—threat to our democracy that can't be swept under the rug," White House spokesman Mike Gwin previously said. "As President Biden determined, the constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself."

The case is the first of its kind in that it involves a legal dispute between a sitting president and a current one, and all parties have agreed on its historic nature. However, they disagree as to what's in the best interest of the public. The select committee argues that the documents could be critical to understanding what led to the Capitol riot, a disruption in the peaceful transfer of presidential power. Trump's team has argued that the outcome could have a "profound effect" on the executive branch.

In appealing Chutkan's ruling, Trump's legal team said there's no harm in delaying the release of the documents. It noted that issuing the injunction wouldn't permanently block the documents from being released but would just "postpone the moment of disclosure."

While the select committee would suffer "no harm" from the delay, according to Trump's attorney, the court filing argued that Trump would suffer "irreparable harm" if the documents were released Friday. The release would deny Trump his "constitutional" right to be "fully heard" on the disagreement and likely render his case moot, the filing said.

Instead of being released on Friday at 6 p.m., as was previously scheduled, the documents likely won't be released until December, if at all. Trump is required to file his brief on Tuesday, with oral arguments not beginning until November 30.