Donald Trump’s Defeat in the Court of Appeals is the Ideal Christmas Present. Here’s WHY?

A federal appeals court on Thursday cleared the way for Congress to get hundreds of documents related to the January 6 insurrection in time for the holidays.

A House of Representatives commission was formed to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol and recommend legislation to defend our democracy from future attacks.

As a result of the attack in early October, the House Intelligence Committee requested from the National Archives all relevant Trump administration data, including call logs, visitor logs, and other information. This was because Trump had urged them to “fight like hell” in a speech to back up his false claims about the election results.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a member of the news media after attending a border security briefing with Texas Governor Greg Abbott to discuss security at the U.S. southern border with Mexico in Weslaco, Texas, U.S. June 30, 2021.

After careful consideration, Joe Biden agreed to release the records and denied Trump’s executive privilege claim. Trump’s legal team had to launch a lawsuit to stop the release of his phone records. Trump appealed the preliminary injunction denial by a federal district judge. The appeal was likewise denied.

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Trump may not get much of a hearing after Judge Patricia Millett ruled for a unanimous three-judge panel on Thursday.

This isn’t a difficult legal issue to grasp. Congress requested documents from the National Archives for a legitimate reason: preventing riots meant to disrupt congressional activity.

In these extraordinary circumstances, the president decided that publishing the information was in the national interest. The appellate court stated that “the Political Branches are unanimous with respect to these particular papers,” referring to the decision reached by the elected representatives.

Donald Trump, who was soundly defeated in November 2020 tried to thwart public disclosure by claiming a privilege he no longer has.

“Under our Constitution, we only have one president at a time,” the appeal court ruled. If the president’s assessment of the national interest aligns with that of Congress, there must be strong evidence to the contrary.

The new verdict emphasized Trump’s failure to show Congress or the current president misunderstood or misapplied the national interest. The court record contains no evidence that Trump disagrees with Congress or President Biden on any single document.

The court says “According to him, none of these records are protected by executive privilege.

In no record or indication to this court, Mr. Trump has omitted any background or information that could change President Biden’s calculation.”

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Despite its legal correctness, the decision’s wisdom goes much beyond that. It was timely, based on facts, and related to a careful and humble understanding of the judiciary’s function in our constitution.

This judgment appears to have been written with the Supreme Court in mind. (It even ends with Justice Gorsuch’s book title.) The appeal court handed Trump 14 days to file a petition for an injunction against further disclosure, as Trump’s legal team has claimed. That period ended on December 23.

A lot of evidence points to the Supreme Court not intervening in this case. Trump’s words break the logic and structure of the US Constitution and law. This is not the Resolute Desk or Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of Washington.

The Supreme Court, as in most cases, should stay out of this. Despite being Trump’s party, six of the nine nominees are not ready to compromise the law for partisanship. The law was plain when they refused to entertain Trump’s false electoral claims.

The D.C. Circuit ruling makes no new legal tests or findings of future requests for Trump administration records. In the lack of proof to the contrary, courts must defer to the legislative and executive departments. Chief Justice John Roberts praised judicial modesty, which should keep the ruling from being reversed.

Notable is the speed of the decision. On September 9, the DC Circuit delivered a 68-page opinion that shows it acknowledges the urgency of Congress’ probe.

“January 6 isn’t over,” our amicus brief declared. The states are still attacking our elections, and Congress must act to stop it. This decision shows that courts can and should move quickly to ensure Congress gets the information it needs to protect our democracy.

The recent decision is crucial because it reflects a reasoned but stubborn attitude. On Wednesday, the New York Attorney General subpoenaed Trump for a civil deposition in her investigation into Trump’s businesses.

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Trump’s stalling tactics worked well when he was president. Now they seem to fail him. Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and political adviser Steve Bannon should be worried.

To block investigations, presidents and their associates can no longer shelter behind vague and insubstantial assertions of privilege. It’s big outside of Congress. It benefits our country and its people.

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