Jackson — a judge known for presiding over the criminal cases of several defendants charged in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — scheduled a phone call to speak with the lawyers in the lawsuit for Tuesday afternoon.
The three groups had sued Trump and his executive office in May for failing to document at least five meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and one with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Jackson was poised at earliest to consider early questions in the lawsuit at the end of this month. But that was before the recent developments accusing the White House of restricting access to several transcripts of calls between Trump and foreign leaders, including the controversial July 25 phone call
between the President and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.
The groups, according to the CREW and historical archivists’ court filings Tuesday, are accusing the Trump administration of refusing to respond to their requests to keep documents related to the whistleblower complaint. That complaint was released this past week and alleges Trump abused his official powers “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the 2020 election and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
The government transparency groups’ lawyers asked the White House on September 20 for confirmation that it would keep records including those that relate to the whistleblower’s complaint and Trump’s call with Zelensky.
The Justice Department, responding on behalf of the White House, wouldn’t give them that assurance, saying it was “privileged legal advice.”
“In the face of the palpable risk that presidential records will be irreparably lost to Plaintiffs and the American people, Defendants have refused to provide Plaintiffs with adequate assurances that pending the resolution of this lawsuit all relevant information will be preserved,” lawyers for the government transparency groups wrote Tuesday. “To hold the President immune from any lawsuit seeking to make him accountable for his recordkeeping violations would, however, fly in the face of the text and purpose of the [Presidential Records Act], its historical context, and the congressional record.”
The Presidential Records Act, initially passed in 1978, says presidential records are publicly owned documents and should be archived — often so the public may have access to them after the President leaves office.
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.