Court Battles

Supreme Court rejects Trump’s bid to shield records from Jan. 6 committee

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected former President Trump’s bid to block a trove of his administration’s records from being handed to the Jan. 6 House committee.

The ruling came in an unsigned, one-paragraph order. Justice Clarence Thomas, a staunch conservative, was alone in indicating that he would have granted Trump’s request.

The move cleared the way for congressional investigators to receive a batch of Trump-era schedules, call logs, emails and other requested documents that the committee says could illuminate key circumstances surrounding the deadly Capitol riot.

The committee said it had begun receiving records Wednesday night just hours after a ruling that chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wy.) hailed as “a victory for the rule of law and American democracy.”

“Our work goes forward to uncover all the facts about the violence of January 6th and its causes,” they said in a joint statement, emphasizing that their effort aims “to ensure nothing like that day ever happens again.”

The order leaves intact a lower federal appeals court ruling that found Trump’s assertion of executive privilege and other legal theories unpersuasive in light of President Biden’s refusal to invoke privilege, as well as the House panel’s pressing task. 

The justices wrote that although the unprecedented dispute between a former president and lawmakers raised “serious and substantial concerns,” the Washington, D.C.,-based federal appeals court had suitably analyzed the issues at hand.

“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 court wrote.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who concurred with the majority’s ruling, wrote separately to note his disagreement with part of the lower appeals court’s reasoning and its prospective legal weight.  

Thomas, the lone dissenter, did not explain the source of his disagreement.

Trump turned to the Supreme Court last month after lower federal courts rejected his request to halt the National Archives from passing along his administration’s records. His attorneys had asked the justices to shield the disputed materials from disclosure while they considered his formal appeal, a request Wednesday’s ruling rebuffed. 

The Jan. 6 committee has not established a hard deadline for completing its investigation, but its chairman, Thompson, has said the panel hopes to wrap up by early spring.

The committee faces separate legal challenges to its investigative authority in ongoing court clashes with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, as well as Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich and post-election legal adviser John Eastman.

Updated 8:50 p.m.

Tags Bennie Thompson Brett Kavanaugh Clarence Thomas Donald Trump Donald Trump Jan. 6 Capitol attack Jan. 6 investigation Joe Biden Liz Cheney Mark Meadows Steve Bannon
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