House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday praised a federal judge’s ruling rejecting former President Trump’s request to block the National Archives from turning over documents sought by the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
“The District Court has delivered an important victory for the Constitution, the rule of law and the American people, in ruling to decisively reaffirm the House’s broad investigatory powers and to reject the past president’s attempted obstruction of the investigation into the deadly January 6th insurrection,” the California Democrat said in a statement.
Judge Tanya Chutkan on Tuesday said the select committee, led by Democratic Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, could access hundreds of pages of documents from the Trump White House that the former president’s legal team had tried to keep secret. Mr. Trump has tried to claim executive privilege to keep the records private, but President Biden and his administration have declined to assert the right on Mr. Trump’s behalf.
“The court holds that the public interest lies in permitting — not enjoining — the combined will of the legislative and executive branches to study the events that occurred on January 6, and to consider legislation to prevent such events from ever occurring again,” she wrote in the 39-page ruling.
Judge Chutkan said, “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”
The former president “retains the right to assert that his records are privileged, but the incumbent President ‘isn’t constitutionally obliged to honor’ that assertion,” she said.
Ms. Pelosi established the select committee after House GOP lawmakers refused to sign off on a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, designed to halt congressional proceedings effectively ratifying Mr. Biden’s win in the 2020 election.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, meanwhile, pulled back his picks for the select committee after Ms. Pelosi refused to allow GOP Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana to sit on the panel.
The decision set a new precedent, infuriating Republicans who said it could come back to haunt Democrats in the future.
Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both Republicans, nonetheless later joined the committee, defying Mr. McCarthy.
“No one can be allowed to stand in the way of the truth — particularly not the previous president, who instigated and encouraged the insurrection,” Ms. Pelosi said Wednesday.