Supreme Court denies Trump request to block documents release to January 6 committee
© WikiMedia (Joe Ravi)
Supreme Court denies Trump request to block documents release to January 6 committee

The Supreme Court Wednesday denied an emergency request by Former President Donald Trump to block the release of presidential records from the Donald Trump White House to the congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In August, the special House committee requested that the National Archives provide the presidential records relating to the January 6 events and Trump’s claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

In October, Trump filed a lawsuit to block the Archives from releasing the documents, arguing that the documents are shielded by executive privilege. In response to Trump’s assertion of executive privilege, President Joe Biden told the archivist that he had “determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified.” The district court and court of appeals ruled against Trump.  

Trump appealed to the Supreme Court in December, requesting that the justices block the release of the documents. Trump argued that as a former president, he has the right to assert executive privilege to shield documents and that this case “fundamentally affects the functioning of the American presidency.”

In the short unsigned order decided 8-1, Justice Kavanaugh acknowledged that the “questions whether and in what circumstances a former President may obtain a court order preventing disclosure of privileged records from his tenure in office” when the current president has decided to waive the privilege “are unprecedented and raise serious and substantial concerns.”

The Court does not have a deadline to decide whether to take up Trump’s appeal, but Wednesday’s order clears the way for the National Archives to release more than 700 documents to Congress. The documents include activity logs, schedules, speech notes, and handwritten notes from then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Addressing Wednesday’s order, Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst, explained, “Although the justices did not rule on whether the court of appeals correctly rejected his suit, by not blocking the handing over now, the justices have allowed that ruling to be the final word.”