DC Judge Denies Trump Request for Subpoenas of J6 Committee Materials

DC Judge Denies Trump Request for Subpoenas of J6 Committee Materials
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) (L), Chair of the House Jan. 6 Committee, delivers remarks alongside Vice Chairwoman Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) during a hearing in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington on Oct. 13, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Sam Dorman

D.C. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has denied former President Donald Trump’s motion to subpoena records from the House of Representatives’ Jan. 6 committee, arguing that his requests are like a fishing expedition.

Her seven-page decision criticized the scope and alleged vagueness of President Trump’s requests. It also argued that he was improperly applying Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 17 to information that could be obtained through other means.

“Defendant has not met his burdens with respect to his proposed Rule 17(c) subpoenas,” Judge Chutkan said.

“He has not sufficiently justified his requests for either the ‘Missing Materials’ themselves or the other five categories of documents related to them.”

Quoting the United States v. Cuthbertson, she added that the “broad scope of the records that defendant seeks, and his vague description of their potential relevance, resemble less ‘a good faith effort to obtain identified evidence’ than they do ‘a general fishing expedition that attempts to use the [Rule 17(c) subpoena] as a discovery device.’”

President Trump’s initial motion from Oct. 11 requested purportedly “missing materials” that the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 had allegedly failed to preserve and transfer to another congressional committee.

Fox News reported in August that Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight for the Committee on House Administration, accused the select committee of failing to provide certain communications with the Biden administration, as well as video recordings of depositions and interviews leveraged by the select committee.

“President Trump is fully entitled to seek the missing records by subpoena,” the defense wrote in its October motion.

“It is also equally important to determine if these records have been lost, destroyed, or altered.

“The requested subpoenas are narrowly tailored to achieve these legitimate ends, which are fundamental to ensuring President Trump’s right to a fair trial under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

“As the missing records are currently unavailable, the requested subpoenas would not be duplicative of any other records either publicly available or produced in discovery.”

In addition to those materials, President Trump made requests for five other categories of materials—communications and documents—related to the original.

“Without these documents, President Trump cannot possibly have a fair trial,” the defense said.

President Trump is currently preparing for a trial in which the Justice Department is accusing him of conspiring to undermine the 2020 election results.

The Biden administration has tied President Trump to the events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, prompting fierce opposition from the defense.

Issued on Nov. 27, the order comes 10 days after Judge Chutkan denied President Trump’s request to strike certain “inflammatory” statements related to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, from the DOJ’s indictment.

The requested subpoenas targeted the Archivist of the United States at the National Archives and Records Administration, the Jan. 6 select committee, White House and Homeland Security Department attorneys, and Mr. Loudermilk, select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), and the Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Mr. Thompson denied an obligation to provide the video recordings requested by Mr. Loudermilk. He added that some of the records weren’t provided because they were undergoing review by the executive branch because of national security and other concerns.

“This was part of the select committee’s effort to accommodate the Executive Branch in appropriately protecting certain sensitive information while also complying with the archiving rules of the House,” Mr. Thompson said.

“The Executive Branch was still conducting its review of that material to provide appropriate archiving guidance at the time the Select Committee dissolved.

“Accordingly, the Select Committee did not have the opportunity to properly archive that material with the rest of its records with the benefit of the Executive Branch’s guidance to ensure witness safety, our national security, and law enforcement sensitive information.”