The U.S. Supreme Court late Wednesday rejected former President Donald Trump’s request to block documents and records from his administration to the Jan. 6 House Committee.
The ruling comes after Trump last month asked the Supreme Court to block the documents’ release, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected his argument of executive privilege, but granted his request to temporarily halt the National Archives from releasing the documents, pending judicial review.
“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 wrote in the 8–1 ruling (pdf).
Justice Clarence Thomas would have granted Trump’s request. He did not expand on the reasons for his dissent.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that while he sided with the majority, he disagreed with a portion of the lower appeals court’s decision.
“The Court of Appeals suggested that a former President may not successfully invoke the Presidential communications privilege for communications that occurred during his Presidency, at least if the current President does not support the privilege claim. As this Court’s order today makes clear, those portions of the Court of Appeals’ opinion were dicta and should not be considered binding precedent going forward,” he wrote.
“Moreover, I respectfully disagree with the Court of Appeals on that point. A former President must be able to successfully invoke the Presidential communications privilege for communications that occurred during his Presidency, even if the current President does not support the privilege claim. Concluding otherwise would eviscerate the executive privilege for Presidential communications. otherwise would eviscerate the executive privilege for Presidential communications.”
The House panel, which had been criticized for its partisanship, will now begin receiving the records they requested, such as call logs and emails, among other documents, that they say may uncover key details surrounding the events in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021.
The two Republicans who voted in support of the committee, Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), were the only Republicans appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to the committee.