Then-President Donald Trump speaks as White House chief of staff Mark Meadows listens prior to Trump's Marine One departure from the South Lawn of the White House on July 29, 2020 in Washington.
Washington CNN  — 

Former President Donald Trump’s legal team has lost a bid for emergency help from the federal appeals court in Washington, DC, to block some of his closest advisers from testifying about him to a grand jury, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, according to a new court filing.

Trump’s team on Monday night asked for the appeals court to wipe away a lower court’s ruling that would force several of his top advisers to answer questions to a grand jury investigating Trump and his allies’ attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, despite his claims of legal protections around his presidency that would shield some of their testimony.

The appeals court denied his request on Tuesday, dealing Trump another legal setback just before he is set to enter a courtroom in Manhattan to face criminal charges in a separate investigation.

The swift decision means advisers to Trump, including Meadows, could be brought into the federal grand jury in Washington by prosecutors in the coming days. Trump would need a court to intervene in his favor in order to block their subpoenas.

By early Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors from the special counsel’s office who are focused on January 6-related cases already had brought former Homeland Security acting secretary Ken Cuccinelli back to the grand jury. Cuccinelli previously testified to the grand jury in Washington in January.

Overnight, a panel of three judges on the appeals court – Patricia Millett, Robert Wilkins and Greg Katsas – had sought a response from the Justice Department regarding Trump’s request. The Justice Department responded about two hours later.

An appeal on the larger legal questions around executive privilege assertions could still live on before the appeals court, but the activity around Trump’s emergency request for a stay would determine now if witnesses must comply with Justice Department subpoenas and the lower court’s decision against Trump.

Trump’s team is unlikely to ask the Supreme Court for help, one source told CNN. A spokesperson for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

The case is sealed and Trump and the Justice Department are not named in the filings. The Biden administration has repeatedly declined to assert executive privilege for the presidency related to Trump’s actions around January 6, 2021, when issues like these came up in previous situations.

Other witnesses who may be affected by the ruling include Trump’s former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, former national security adviser Robert O’Brien and several Trump White House advisers such as Stephen Miller and Dan Scavino. CNN has confirmed some of the witnesses previously testified to the grand jury, but may have declined to answer some questions at Trump’s direction.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team is seeking grand jury testimony from these senior Trump aides as part of the wide-ranging criminal probe into Trump’s post-election actions in 2020 and the January 6, 2021, insurrection.

Last week, Trump went to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge the underlying ruling in the case, from DC District Court Judge Beryl Howell in March. But on Monday, two of Trump’s defense lawyers, Evan Corcoran and James Trusty, visited another district court judge who now oversees grand jury proceedings, Chief Judge James Boasberg, to ask for a pause on the case, the source said. He denied their request, prompting the Trump team to go to the appeals court seeking emergency help, according to the source.

The ruling from Howell ordering Meadows and others to answer questions was one of the last in her tenure as chief judge of the DC District Court, and added to a pile of losses for Trump as he has tried unsuccessfully to block federal prosecutors from obtaining testimony in the January 6, 2021, and Mar-a-Lago criminal investigations. Separately, Boasberg recently decided former Vice President Mike Pence would need to testify in the same investigation.

Trump has lost repeatedly in court on executive privilege claims, with the Justice Department able to overcome presidential secrecy because of the grand jury investigation needs. While Trump’s team has criticized the prosecutorial steps as overreach, the court’s decisions are in line with what criminal investigations have been able to achieve dating back to the Watergate investigation.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.