Trump asks Supreme Court to step in and block the Jan. 6 committee from obtaining his records after 2 lower courts denied his request
- Trump asked the
Supreme Courtto block the release of White House documents to the Jan. 6 committee.
- The committee requested the documents as part of its investigation into the
"Congress limited its own access to Presidential records when it adopted the Presidential Records Act, a law it now stubbornly refuses to follow," Trump's lawyers said in their filing to the high court. They later added: "The records of a former President are not distributed freely upon the conclusion of his term of office, even to Congress."
Trump asserted executive privilege over the documents, but the Biden White House declined to do the same and authorized the National Archives and Records Administration to turn over the materials to Congress. Trump filed a lawsuit in response, setting up the first constitutional showdown testing whether a sitting president has the right to overrule their predecessor's assertion of executive privilege.
Two lower courts — a district court and a federal appeals court — rejected Trump's request, prompting him to appeal to the Supreme Court.
His lawyers noted in their filing Thursday that "a former President has the right to assert executive privilege, even after his term of office," rehashing an argument they've repeatedly made while seeking to block the select committee's records request. But the lower courts haven't disputed that; rather, they've ruled that while Trump has the right to assert executive privilege, he does not have the right to override the current administration's refusal to do the same.
A federal district judge first rejected Trump's request in November, saying that while he has the right to assert privilege, President Joe Biden is not required to honor it.
Trump's legal team appealed the ruling, but the Washington, DC, Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's ruling in a blistering 68-page opinion written by Judge Patricia Millett.
"Benjamin Franklin said, at the founding, that we have '[a] Republic'—'if [we] can keep it.' The events of January 6th exposed the fragility of those democratic institutions and traditions that we had perhaps come to take for granted," Millett wrote.
"Former President Trump has given this court no legal reason to cast aside President Biden's assessment of the Executive Branch interests at stake, or to create a separation of powers conflict that the Political Branches have avoided," the ruling said.
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