Trump‘s request to block the release of White House records to Congress to investigate the deadly Capitol attack on Jan. 6 was rejected by the US supreme court, dealing a blow to the former president.
Trump‘s request to prevent the House select committee from obtaining the records while the case moves through the courts has been overruled, which means Congress will have access to more than 700 documents related to the attack.
Trump‘s only high court opponent who indicated he would grant Trump’s request for an injunction was Clarence Thomas. Typical of emergency stay requests, there was no explanation provided for the denial of the application.
In light of the Supreme Court decision, the select committee has gained access to some of the most sensitive White House records from the Trump administration, including call logs, daily presidential diaries, and handwritten memos from his top aides.
Donald Trump tried to hide documents in his files by claiming executive privilege, which also included materials in the files of his former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy counsel Pat Philbin, and advisor Stephen Miller.
Attorneys for the Justice Department wrote in an earlier filing that these records relate to events on or about January 6 and may aid the Select Committee’s investigation into that day.
It is also likely that the supreme court’s decision, following the earlier rejection of Trump‘s request by lower courts, will impact other lawsuits filed against the panel, which hinge on Trump‘s pending litigation.
During the case, Trump‘s lawyers urged the Supreme Court to take the case because they disagreed with an earlier ruling that a current president could waive executive privilege over the objections of a former president.
Former presidents cannot maintain executive privilege over the objection of an incumbent, who is often a political rival as is the case here, the lower court ruled.
According to Trump’s legal team, the select committee was engaged in a partisan investigation in order to cause political damage to the former president and lacked a legitimate, legislative basis for seeking the documents.
As a result of these broad requests, the committee’s investigation of Trump deviates from any of Congress’ legislative functions, Trump’s attorneys said of the panel.
In an unsigned opinion, the Supreme Court rejected those arguments, reinstating the decision by the appellate court that, while Trump had some limited executive privilege powers, they were not sufficient to override Biden’s waiver.
In its ruling, the court cited a 1977 supreme court decision in a dispute between former president Richard Nixon and the National Archives, which stated that it was the president’s responsibility to decide whether the protection should be asserted.
According to the appeals court, if the select committee can cite at least one legislative purpose for the documents – reforming laws to avoid a repeat of January 6, for example – that is sufficient to justify its request for Trump’s records.
The committee has also refuted Trump’s claim that forcing the National Archives to provide White House documents could discourage future presidential aides from providing candid advice.
Trump’s behavior and some of his most senior aides under investigation went far beyond any usual considerations regarding a president’s official duties, the committee said.
As soon as the supreme court handed down its ruling, investigators in the select committee’s offices on Capitol Hill began clapping in celebration, as the panel was subpoenaing more individuals connected to the January 6 rebellion.
A panel of federal investigators issued subpoenas to far-right Trump activists Nicholas Fuentes and Patrick Casey who received thousands of dollars in funds that may have been connected to illegal activity and the attack on the Capitol.
Fuentes and Casey have been subpoenaed to provide documents and testimony to the panel about the funding for the rallies preceding the Capitol attack and the coordinated travel plans of thousands of pro-Trump rioters.
The chairman of the select committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson, said House investigators are looking into the pair because they were intimately involved in the transfer of money surrounding the attack on the Capitol, and were present on the Capitol grounds on January 6.
In the subpoena letters, the select committee alleged that Fuentes and Casey led the “America First” or “Groyper” movement while trying to prevent Joe Biden’s election win and get Trump a second term.