A federal appeals court panel Tuesday reportedly appeared leery about former President Donald Trump's bid to keep records away from congressional investigators that concern his conversations and actions the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
But even if the panel — whose jurists were all appointed by Democrat presidents — rules against Trump, his lawyers said they will seek a 14-day freeze so they can take it right to the conservative-majority Supreme Court, Reuters reported.
A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard a three-hour oral argument in Trump's appeal of a judge's decision the Jan. 6 records be turned over to a House committee, Reuters reported.
According to Reuters, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson questioned why Trump should be able to challenge and overrule President Joe Biden's determination the records should be handed over.
"Is there a circumstance where the former president ever gets to make this sort of call?" asked Jackson, seen as a possible future Supreme Court nominee for Biden, Reuters reported.
Trump lawyer Justin Clark argued a 1978 law called the Presidential Records Act gives Trump that power.
"I don't see that in the statute," Jackson responded.
The House select committee investigating Jan. 6 has asked the National Archives to produce visitor logs, phone records, and written communications between Trump’s advisers.
According to Reuters, Judge Patricia Millett also asked why a former president's determination should overrule one by the current president.
"We only have one president at a time under our Constitution," Millett said, the news agency reported.
The three judges pressed Clark and another Trump lawyer, Jesse Binnall, over whether courts even have jurisdiction to hear Trump's claims.
"All three branches of government have acknowledged there is a right of former presidents to challenge the designation and release of presidential records," Binnall responded, Reuters reported.
Trump sued the committee and the National Archives to try to prevent the release. In court filings, Trump's lawyers called the Democratic-led investigation politically motivated, and argued the requested documents are protected by executive privilege.
Judge Robert Wilkins on Tuesday said Trump is not entitled to the type of document-by-document review he has requested before any records are released.
"It seems to me that your argument is inconsistent with our precedent," Wilkins told Trump’s lawyer, the news service reported.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan earlier this month rejected Trump's arguments to protect the documents, saying he had not acknowledged the "deference owed" to Biden's determination the committee could access the records and adding: "Presidents are not kings, and plaintiff is not president."
Trump's lawyers said Tuesday they would consider appealing an unfavorable ruling to the Supreme Court, and asked any ruling against them not go into effect immediately so they could seek further review.
Jackson, Millett and Wilkins all were appointed by either Biden or former President Barack Obama, both Democrats, Reuters noted.
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