(Nov. 11) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit did the right thing Thursday afternoon in granting a brief hold on the forced release of Trump administration documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Former President Donald Trump’s claims of executive privilege almost certainly are flawed , so Trump is likely to lose and the documents likely to be released. Still, for purposes of the preliminary injunction, the court made the right call. While endless delays would not be in order here, a temporary halt is the only just decision.

Executive privilege claims are serious matters, even though they are made far too expansively and far too often. As a flashpoint of disputes about where to properly apply lines about the separation of powers between government branches, such assertions of privilege get to the very heart of the constitutional design.

One of the key standards for an injunction is that a hold is appropriate if irreversible harm to one side could occur without it. If the documents are released on Friday, as they were scheduled to be, the point would be moot and the damage to Trump’s claims would be irretrievable.

Once documents are released to representatives of the public, they cannot be unseen….

[The full column is here.]


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