Trump's request to keep Capitol siege documents secret rejected by the Supreme court


Washington D.C
Stephen Parlato holds a sign outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S., on January 19, 2022. © Leah Millis, Reuters

The United States Supreme Court denied former President Donald Trump's request to halt the release of White House records requested by a Democratic-led congressional panel investigating last year's deadly attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters.

The decision means that the documents held by a federal agency that manages government and historical records can be disclosed even as lower court litigation continues.

Trump's appeal to the Supreme Court came after the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on Dec. 9 that the businessman-turned-politician lacked standing to challenge President Joe Biden's decision to turn over the records to the House select committee.

Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, who chairs the panel, and Republican Representative Liz Cheney, who serves as vice-chair, issued a statement calling the Supreme Court decision "a victory for the rule of law and American democracy." They added that the committee has already begun receiving some of the documents Trump hoped to withhold.

A request for comment from a Trump spokesperson was not immediately returned.

Trump and his allies have been fighting the committee in court to prevent access to documents and witnesses.

Trump has attempted to invoke a legal doctrine known as executive privilege, which protects the confidentiality of certain internal White House communications, but lower courts have rejected this position.

The brief Supreme Court order noted that the case could be resolved without addressing the weighty question of whether a former president can assert executive privilege.

"Because the court of appeals concluded that President Trump's claims would have failed even if he were the incumbent, his status as a former president necessarily made no difference to the court's decision," the unsigned order stated.

Only one of the court's nine members, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, expressed public disapproval of the ruling.

The House committee has stated that it requires the records to determine whether Trump played a role in instigating the violence that erupted on Jan. 6, 2021.

His supporters stormed the Capitol in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent Congress from formally certifying Biden's victory over Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

The committee has requested visitor logs, phone records, and written communications between Trump's advisers from the National Archives, which houses Trump's White House records.

Biden, who took office two weeks after the riot, determined that the executive branch's records should be exempt from executive privilege and that turning them over to Congress was in the national interest. Trump has argued that he has the authority to invoke executive privilege because he was president at the time, although he is no longer in office.

On Nov. 9, United States District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected Trump's arguments, stating that he had failed to acknowledge the "deference owed" to Biden's determination that the committee could access the records and adding, "Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President."

Seven Democrats and two Republicans serve on the select committee. Trump-appointed three justices to the Supreme Court's conservative majority of 6-3, but the court has not always been receptive to his requests.

Trump's request to block disclosure of his tax records as part of a criminal investigation in New York was denied last year, as were his and his allies' attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

Shortly before the riot, Trump repeated to a crowd of supporters his false claim that the 2020 election had been stolen from him by widespread voter fraud, urging them to march to the Capitol and "fight like hell" to "stop the steal."

Publish : 2022-01-20 10:54:00

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