Washington DC: The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned away a final appeal by former President Trump in his dispute with congressional investigators pursuing his administration’s records as part of the probe into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
The court’s move represented a finishing blow — at least for now — to Trump’s months-long legal bid to block lawmakers from obtaining schedules, call logs, emails, and other White House documents the committee says it needs to flesh out the circumstances surrounding the deadly pro-Trump Capitol riot.
The defeat also likely lays to rest the concern that Trump might make use of a drain-the-clock litigation strategy to stymie the Jan. 6 probe. Trump wielded the approach effectively as president, using a range of delay tactics to drag out lawsuits, hamper investigators and fend off records requests.
“While there is a nontrivial chance Mr. Trump may again try to block the release of records through new litigation, the resolution of this case arguably should spell the end of this particular obstacle for the Jan. 6 committee’s effort to receive presidential records,” said Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer, and partner in the Law Office of Mark S. Zaid.
“On the horizon, however, lays the more difficult issue for the committee of whether to subpoena Mr. Trump and his family in an effort to compel actual testimony,” Moss added.
The justices’ ruling, which came in a brief unsigned order issued without comment, comes after the Supreme Court denied Trump’s emergency request to block the transfer of his White House records from the National Archives to the House select committee, a process that began last month.
Trump turned to the Supreme Court in December after lower federal courts rejected his requests to halt the National Archives from passing along his administration’s records. His attorneys had asked the justices to shield the disputed materials from disclosure while they considered his formal appeal.
Trump’s lawyers, in court papers, had also pushed back on the committee’s claim that a protracted legal fight threatens to undermine its work.
The justices, however, rebuffed Trump’s emergency request in a Jan. 19 ruling. Within hours, the House select committee began receiving records, a development that panel Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) hailed as “a victory for the rule of law and American democracy.”