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Lawyers looking to quash Trump's immigration ban seek emails, subpoenas

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a joint news conference with Jordan's King Abdullah II in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, on April 5, 2017.


Lawyers for six states seeking to quash President Donald Trump's travel ban want to the government to co-operate if they decide to serve subpoenas on Trump and others who work in the White House, according to a report filed Wednesday in federal court in Seattle.

Trump's revised travel ban is blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear the case May 15, but a case filed by Washington and five other states saying the travel ban targeting predominantly Muslim nations is unconstitutional has continued.

In a 25-page report, the states said they want all email communications among people in the Trump administration and third parties before and after Trump took office to be preserved for the case. The relevant time period should start on June 16, 2015, when Trump declared his presidential candidacy, the lawyers said.

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"The underlying factual basis, intent, design, issuance and implementation of the executive orders" may be contained in those email messages, the lawyers said.

The Justice Department said discovery in the case is "inappropriate," arguing the issues raised by the case will likely be resolved by the appeals court in the Hawaii case.

"The second executive order is neutral with respect to religion, and plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that it infringes any of the constitutional or statutory provisions on which they rely," so the case should not go forward, the Justice Department said.

But should the judge require discovery, the lawyers said the data collected should be limited to the date Trump took office to the present.

The state lawyers also asked for co-operation from the Justice Department should they seek to serve subpoenas on Trump, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, White House staff or witness with a federal security detail.

The Justice Department opposes the deposition of any high-ranking government officials.

The states said the two sides should be allowed up to 30 depositions each, while the government said the limit should be 10 each.

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Judge James Robart has yet to rule on the government's motion to put the case on hold until the appeal on the Hawaii case is decided.

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