Rep Liz Cheney said she was optimistic that a District of Columbia federal judge will rule in favour of the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot earlier this year, and allow the panel to access documents that former president Donald Trump produced during his administration.
“Very hopeful that the judge will rule, it’ll be very clear the position that was argued, which is that Congress’ interest in getting access to the documents and the Justice Department’s position and President Biden’s position make very clear the need to get access to the documents,” Ms Cheney said on Thursday.
US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan seemed to express scepticism during a virtual hearing when questioning Trump attorney Justin Clark’s argument that Mr Trump’s ability to invoke executive privilege was not weakened by the fact he is no longer in office.
“Would you agree that the fact that the plaintiff is no longer sitting president somewhat diminishes the applicability of the privilege issues you’re arguing?” Judge Chutkan asked Mr Clark, to which he replied, “No, I don’t think it weakens it.”
Mr Trump filed a lawsuit against the committee and its chairman Rep Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, Archivist of the United States David Ferriero and the National Archives and Records Administration in an attempt to block Mr Ferriero from providing the select committee documents about the attack on the Capitol.
Ms Cheney is one of two Republicans, the other being Rep Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, serving on the committee. Both members voted to impeach Mr Trump for inciting the riot on 6 January after his repeated lies that the election was stolen.
Ms Cheney was also ousted as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference for her repeated criticisms of the former president’s promotion of the so-called “Big Lie”. Mr Kinzinger announced last week that he would not seek reelection after Democrats’ redistricting in Illinois meant he would face a tough primary challenge against fellow GOP Rep Darin LaHood.
But Ms Cheney was not the only member of the select committee to express optimism. Democratic Rep Elaine Luria of Virginia said she was at another hearing during the court questioning but was optimistic.
“I think there is a valid case, I think it was thought out very well in the brief from the committee and I think it’ll ultimately prevail because I think [former White House adviser Steve] Bannon’s claims of executive privilege are just null and void,” she said. “He wasn’t an employee of the government.”