(CNN) Ex-President Donald Trump is planting his flag on a logical absurdity in his transparent bid to run out the clock on the January 6 investigation and avoid accountability for his unprecedented bid to steal power in a coup.
A President who refused to accept the result of a free and fair election and who incited a mob that invaded the US Capitol is arguing that he is acting to protect the republic, the presidency and constitutional norms. That argument is hard to read with a straight face.
His goal is to delay the House select committee’s investigation and keep his West Wing documents secret as long as possible, at least until after the midterm elections when a Republican House majority could shut down the probe. And on that front, he got a short-term victory on Thursday when a panel of appeals court judges granted him a last-minute reprieve to stop the committee from obtaining his White House documents as scheduled on Friday. The move was to allow time for Trump’s appeal to a scathing ruling from a lower court judge earlier this week that comprehensively rejected his claim to shield memos, diary entries, and call and visitor logs with executive privilege. But in their Thursday memo, the three judges — all appointed by Democrats — wrote that it “should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits.”
Trump’s argument that he is trying to defend the presidency may possess a certain legal coherence within the confines of a case he is making that his discussions around January 6 should remain confidential through a doctrine known as executive privilege, which protects presidential deliberations. But in the real world, the claim that he’s acting to protect future occupants of the Oval Office is undermined by his wrecking ball presidency that stretched the Constitution to its limits. It’s the kind of leap of credulity and subversion of truth that defined Trump’s presidency and is consistent with a lifetime approach of using the law to avoid answering the consequences of his own actions rather than pursuing justice.