Politics

Judge Denies Trump Demand For Alleged ‘Missing Materials’ From Jan. 6

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


Federal District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected a request from former President Donald Trump’s legal team for “missing materials” from the January 6 investigation, referring to it as a “fishing expedition.”

Judge Chutkan denied Trump’s motion to subpoena a raft of individuals and entities to obtain “missing records” from the House Select Committee Investigating the Jan. 6 Attack on the Capitol investigation. Chutkan is overseeing the case that Special Counsel Jack Smith has brought against Trump, Mediaite noted.

In order to obtain the “missing records,” Trump’s motion sought to subpoena seven individuals:

–The Archivist of the United States at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

–The Clerk of the House of Representatives

–The current Committee on House Administration, which is the successor entity to the January 6 Select Committee

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–Richard Sauber, the Special Counsel to the President

–Johnathan Meyer, the General Counsel of the Department of Homeland Security

–Representative Barry Loudermilk, U.S. House of Representatives

–Representative Bennie Thompson, U.S. House of Representatives

Chutkan characterized Trump’s attempt to file the motion as a “fishing expedition” and detailed the reasons why he “failed to meet the burden” necessary for the motion to be successful in her decision to deny the motion.

“Defendant likewise fails to meet his burden for the remaining five categories of records that he seeks. Those categories cover documents and communications “in any way pertaining to the Missing Materials,” including their storage, loss, or transfer. See Motion at 5; id. at 8–9. Defendant does not state with any specificity the information that he seeks in those records, repeating only that it is important and related to the events and people associated with the Select Committee’s work and therefore the January 6, 2021 attack. Id. at 9–11,” Chutkan said.

“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.” United States v. Binh Tang Vo, 78 F. Supp. 3d 171, 180 (D.D.C. 2015) (quoting Cuthbertson, 630 F.2d at 144); see also id. at 181. ‘If the moving party cannot reasonably specify the information contained or believed to be contained in the documents sought but merely hopes that something useful will turn up, this is a sure sign that the subpoena is being misused.’ Libby, 432 F. Supp. 2d at 31 (quoting United States v. Noriega, 764 F. Supp. 1480, 1493 (S.D. Fla. 1991)). Defendant has not justified the issuance of a Rule 17(c) subpoena for the five additional categories of records related to the ‘Missing Materials,’” she continued.

In a footnote, Judge Chutkan added: “The Government argues that the video recordings are categorically irrelevant at this time because (1) the written transcripts render them ‘superfluous,’ and (2) that seeking them before the exchange of witness lists would be ‘at best, premature.’ Opp’n to Motion at 7. Because Defendant has failed to satisfy his initial burden, however, the court need not reach those two arguments.”

The judge concluded by writing, “For these reasons, the court hereby DENIES Defendant’s Motion for Pretrial Rule 17(c) Subpoenas, ECF No. 99.”

Earlier this month, Chutkan threw the former president a lifeline.

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Newsweek reported that Chutkan turned away a request from the Department of Justice to put Trump in jail for violating a gag order she re-imposed on him. In a footnote reinstating the gag order, the judge denied federal prosecutors’ request to incorporate her order into the conditions of Trump’s release.

“Even assuming that request is procedurally proper, the court concludes that granting it is not necessary to effectively enforce the order at this time,” she wrote.

The order lifted a temporary hold she placed on her initial gag order, determining that “the right to a fair trial is not [Trump’s] alone but belongs also to the government and the public.”

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