Appeals court rejects Trump’s bid to block aides from testifying in Jan. 6 probe

A federal appeals court in Washington rejected an emergency bid by former President Donald Trump to block several top aides from testifying in the special counsel investigation of his effort to subvert the 2020 election.

In a sealed order, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Trump’s urgent demand to block his aides from being required to appear before special counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury. Trump’s emergency motion triggered a frenzied set of overnight filings ahead of the Tuesday morning ruling.

It’s not immediately clear which aides were covered by the appeals court order, but Trump recently lost a bid to prevent top allies like Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino and Stephen Miller from answering questions he says should be covered by executive privilege. Trump appealed that ruling — issued in mid-March by U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell — last week, leading to the appeals court fight.

CNN has reported that the aides covered by Trump’s emergency order may include Meadows, Scavino, Miller and other former top Trump administration advisers like Robert O’Brien, John Ratcliffe and Ken Cuccinelli.

Smith’s investigation of Trump’s effort to seize a second term has intensified in recent months. He has won a series of rulings to compel testimony from top figures in Trump’s orbit, including former Vice President Mike Pence.

The three-judge panel that rejected Trump’s emergency motion consisted of Judges Patricia Millett, Robert Wilkins and Gregory Katsas. Millett and Wilkins are both appointees of former President Barack Obama, while Katsas was appointed by Trump. The appeals court’s action denying the motion was recorded in its public docket, although the actual order issued by the court and all other pleadings related to the dispute remain sealed.

Trump could try to take the issue to the Supreme Court, though he has opted against doing so in several other defeats connected to Smith’s Jan. 6 probe.

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