The legal fight over Trump’s White House documents: What’s next
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The legal fight over Trump’s White House documents: What’s next

A federal judge on Tuesday slammed former President Donald Trump’s attempt to keep White House documents from the hands of the House committee investigating the events leading up to and on January 6.

“Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” district Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote.

But the plaintiff — Trump — still has several legal options, and as he has done before, will likely use all of them.

Here’s what to know:

What the House wants

The House select committee has sent requests for information to a number of federal agencies, including the National Archives, the custodian of the Trump administration’s White House records.

The committee asked for “all documents and communications within the White House” on that day, including call logs, schedules and meetings with top officials and outside advisers, including Rudy Giuliani.

What Trump wants

To keep those records locked up.

He’s claiming executive privilege and says the January 6 committee is a partisan exercise led by Democrats.

When can the House get the records?

The National Archives is set to begin transferring documents on Friday, November 12. Trump obviously wants to delay that as long as possible.

What does the Biden White House say?

The Biden White House doesn’t want to get in the way and has said it won’t assert executive privilege to stop the document transfer. Chutkan says it’s basically the Biden White House’s choice to make — not Trump’s — since, well, Trump’s not the President.

What’s next?

Trump has told the court he will appeal to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

Also, he’s going back to Chutkan, asking her to at least stop the document transfer while he appeals. If she doesn’t, Trump will likely ask the appeals court to put the transfer on hold while he appeals.

This is going back to the Supreme Court, right?

Probably.

But that could take a while, correct?

Yes.

After Trump appeals, it will be looked at by a three-judge panel from the appeals court in DC. The game at the moment is whether Trump can convince a court this week from blocking the House from getting his White House records. If Trump gets the hold, the panel will eventually rule. Then, the loser before the appeals panel has options to continue with more appeals, including asking the Supreme Court to look at everything again.

But Trump could even try legal maneuvers to get it to SCOTUS before all of that happens and preempt the lower courts to rule in his favor.

How long will this take?

It can be a while, which is the point. Trump used the same techniques to keep the House from getting tax records and other documents, and to prevent officials from testifying, and every step of the legal process can take weeks.

Is there more?

Yes.

Here’s the catch: Trump can essentially challenge things on a dual-track. He wants the courts to eventually rule that he can assert privilege and keep the House from getting the documents.

At the same time, he’s trying to put the transfer on hold while everything happens. All those court filings and requests add up.

What happens if the GOP wins the House?

If the Republicans win the House, the investigation will end at the beginning of 2023.

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