One government watchdog group welcomed the decision as “a huge win for transparency.”
by Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams
Wednesday, January 19, 10:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday denied former President Donald Trump’s attempt to block the release of White House records to a House of Representatives panel investigating last year’s deadly Capitol attack.
The high court’s 8-1 decision—Justice Clarence Thomas dissented—clears the way for the National Archives to share over 700 documents with the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.
“A huge win for transparency!” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) declared of the decision, which the government watchdog group shared on Twitter.
BREAKING: The January 6 Committee is getting Trump administration records pic.twitter.com/Tzij3kI7LK
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) January 19, 2022
CREW president Noah Bookbinder similarly described the development as “hugely significant for accountability.”
According to CNN:
The documents include activity logs, schedules, speech notes, and three pages of handwritten notes from then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows—paperwork that could reveal goings-on inside the West Wing as Trump supporters gathered in Washington and then overran the Capitol, disrupting the certification of the 2020 vote.
Trump is also seeking to keep secret a draft proclamation honoring two police officers who died in the siege and memos and other documents about supposed election fraud and efforts to overturn Trump’s loss of the presidency, the National Archives has said in court documents.
The House committee wants the records to better understand Trump’s role in the January 6 attack. The former president’s “Big Lie” about the 2020 election, including at a rally just before a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol, led to Trump’s historic second impeachment.
The panel had warned the high court that granting Trump’s request “would cause irreparable harm to the select committee by denying it the records it urgently needs to inform its ongoing investigation, including upcoming interviews of scores of witnesses.”
While Trump tried to use executive privilege to prevent the documents from reaching the panel, President Joe Biden declined to invoke the same doctrine, concluding that doing so “is not in the best interests of the United States.”
The Supreme Court's order rests on the D.C. Circuit's determination that Trump's attempt to block the documents would fail "even if he were the incumbent." So SCOTUS declined to draw a distinction between the privilege of former and current presidents. https://t.co/DHvv9VcrxX
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) January 19, 2022
Justice Brett Kavanaugh concurred with the majority opinion on Wednesday but also made clear that he disagrees with a federal appeals court’s suggestion that a former president may not invoke privilege for communications during their tenure if the current president does not support the claim—though the Trump appointee added that allowing ex-leaders to use the power does not mean that it “is absolute or cannot be overcome.”
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