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Trump appeals ruling forcing former aides to testify in 2020 election investigation

Former President Donald J. Trump watches the NCAA Wrestling Championships, Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

(CNN) — Former President Donald Trump is appealing a court ruling that would force several of his former aides, including Mark Meadows, to answer questions before a grand jury as part of the criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

The mid-March ruling from US District Judge Beryl Howell, who was then the chief judge of DC’s federal trial court, is one of several defeats the former president has suffered in his efforts to use executive privilege claims to block the testimony of former aides and allies in the Justice Department’s special counsel investigations.

In another recent ruling, Howell’s successor, Chief Judge James Boasberg, rejected Trump’s executive privilege challenge to a subpoena for former Vice President Mike Pence. The judge did give Pence some protections under a constitutional clause aimed at shielding legislative activities from certain law enforcement actions. It is unclear if any of the parties will appeal Boasberg’s ruling.

Last year, former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy, Patrick Philbin, appeared for additional questioning in front of the grand jury after Trump lost an apparent executive privilege challenge aimed at their appearance.

Trump’s latest appeal is aimed at a Howell decision ordering a constellation of former Trump aides to give grand jury testimony. Among them, sources previously told CNN, are former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, former national security adviser Robert O’Brien and former Department of Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli.

Howell’s ruling also rejected Trump’s privilege claims for multiple former members of his White House, including his ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, his senior adviser Stephen Miller and top communications aide Dan Scavino.

Howell’s order was issued under seal, and the litigation that preceded it also played out in secret. The docket of Trump’s new appeal provides few details and does not identify the parties or the specifics about the case. But it says a notice of appeal has been filed.