Updated Jan 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee


Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.

  • Trump's lawyers had argued that releasing the documents would undermine the president's executive privilege.

The big picture: "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's ruling read.

  • Only Justice Clarence Thomas disclosed voting in favor of allowing the records to be blocked, though he did not elaborate on his dissent.
  • The other justices did not disclose their votes.
  • Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued a statement discussing the issue of executive privilege, but noting, "to say that a former President can invoke the privilege for Presidential communications that occurred during his Presidency does not mean that the privilege is absolute or cannot be overcome."

What they're saying: Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the chair and vice chair of the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot, issued a joint statement on Wednesday night calling the Supreme Court's action "a victory for the rule of law and American democracy."

  • "The Select Committee has already begun to receive records that the former President had hoped to keep hidden and we look forward to additional productions regarding this important information," the statement added.
"Our work goes forward to uncover all the facts about the violence of January 6th and its causes. We will not be deterred in our effort to get answers for the American people, make legislative recommendations to strengthen our democracy, and help ensure nothing like that day ever happens again."
— Reps. Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Thompson and Cheney.

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