December 24, 2021
Former President Donald Trump appealed to the Supreme Court on Thursday, December 23, to block the release of documents from his White House to the House committee investigating the January 6 riot at the Capitol—escalating his effort to keep about 700 pages of records secret, reports CNN.
The House committee, which is charged with investigating the U.S. Capitol attack to provide recommendations for preventing such assaults in the future, seeks the documents as it explores Trump’s role in trying to overturn the election. That includes his appearance at a January 6 rally when he directed followers to go to the Capitol where lawmakers were set to certify the election results and “fight” for their county.
The documents currently are held by the National Archives.
In filings submitted to the Supreme Court on Thursday, Trump asked the justices to take up a full review of the case and he requested that while they consider his position, they put a hold on the lower court decision permitting the disclosure of his records while they consider taking up the case.
“The limited interest the Committee may have in immediately obtaining the requested records pales in comparison to President Trump’s interest in securing judicial review before he suffers irreparable harm,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the court filings.
At issue are hundreds of documents including 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 US Capitol, disrupting the certification of the 2020 vote. The records could answer some of the most closely guarded facts of what happened between Trump and other high-level officials, including those under siege on Capitol Hill on January 6.
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 fight over the documents stems from a lawsuit Trump filed against the Archives as well as the House Committee, seeking to stop the records’ disclosure. Trump is arguing that those documents should remain secret under the former President’s own assertions of executive privilege, although so far, lower courts have rejected his arguments.
Thursday’s filing with the Supreme Court marks an escalation of the dispute, in which President Joe Biden has determined that withholding the documents based on executive privilege is not in the interest of the United States.
In a letter to the National Archives in October, White House Counsel Dana A. Remus said that the President had declined to assert privilege because Congress has a “compelling need in service of its legislative functions to understand the circumstances that led to these horrific events.”
In their filings with the Supreme Court Thursday, the former President’s lawyers said that the House’s request for the Trump White House documents was “untethered from any valid legislative purpose and exceeds the authority of Congress under the Constitution and the Presidential Records Act.”
Research contact: @CNN