Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has asked a federal judge to hold off on requiring him to turn over documents he was photographed taking into a meeting with President Trump before his inauguration.
Magistrate Judge James O’Hara ordered Kobach on Monday to produce the documents by Wednesday. In court filings on Wednesday afternoon, Kobach asked O’Hara not to enforce the order while he appeals the decision.
In response, O’Hara asked for written briefs on the issue.
An Associated Press photographer captured a partial view of one page that was obscured by Kobach’s arm as he entered a Nov. 20 meeting with Trump. The document contained Trump’s plan for the Department of Homeland Security and called for the questioning and tracking of “high-risk” immigrants.
O’Hara conducted a private review of the documents before deciding that Kobach should produce them. Kobach will appeal the decision to U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson.
The American Civil Liberties Union sought its disclosure as part of an ongoing lawsuit against Kobach over a law that requires voters to provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote. The ACLU argued that if Kobach lobbied Trump on changes to the National Voter Registration Act, then the documents may contain material relevant to the case.
“It’s pretty clear that he’s desperate that we not see these documents, and that, of course, makes us want to see them more,” said Doug Bonney, chief counsel for the ACLU of Kansas.
“I thought that Judge O’Hara’s ruling was pretty thorough and soundly disposes of Kobach’s claims of privilege and lack of relevance,” Bonney said, noting that the judge has looked at the documents and found them relevant to the case. “To me, it’s kind of foolish to be going through this further exercise, but we play according to the rules.”
In a court filing, Kobach argues there’s no risk of harm to the public interest by delaying. He notes that the order allowed him to redact much of the documents.
“It is unclear that there is any harm to the public interest therefore in a brief delay in disclosure of a few redacted portions of two documents,” Kobach’s attorney, Garrett Roe, said in the filing.
Kobach’s office did not immediately comment.
Contributing: Bryan Lowry of The Kansas City Star