The U.S. Supreme Court denied Wednesday’s appeal by former President Donald Trump to prevent documents from his final weeks of office being shared with the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol Attack.
The 8-1 order from the Court means that those documents — over 700 in total — can finally be handed to the January 6 commission investigators. The committee lauded the Court’s decision in a statement on Twitter.
“The Supreme Court’s action tonight is a victory for the rule of law & American democracy,” the commission said. “The Select Committee has already begun to receive records that the former President had hoped to keep hidden & we look forward to additional productions regarding this important information.”
The documents in question relate to Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021, when a mob of his loyalists breached the Capitol building seeking to interrupt the certification of the Electoral College results. Some of the documents may also include Trump’s communications in the weeks leading up to the attack, and may provide insight into the former president’s role in plans to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Jesse Binnall, a lawyer representing Trump, argued that the former president had the right to keep communications within the White House private, citing Trump’s executive privilege. Binnall had also suggested that the commission’s work was partisan.
“Congress may not rifle through the confidential presidential papers of a former President to meet political objections,” Binnall previously said. In his briefing to the Supreme Court Binnall also claimed that “producing these privileged documents would irreparably harm the institution of the Presidency.”
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit rejected Binnall’s arguments in December, noting that current President Joe Biden waived Trump’s executive privilege claims in October and that Trump provided “no legal reason to cast aside” that decision.
The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal against that decision on Wednesday. This means that the D.C. Circuit Court’s opinion will remain in place.
Clarence Thomas was only Supreme Court justice who objected to the refusal of the case to be heard. Thomas did not give a written explanation for his vote. many on social media noted that his wife, Ginni Thomas, had taken to social media on the day of the attack to express support for demonstrators in the “Stop the Steal” rally that directly preceded the Capitol breach. Some criticised the justice for refusing the case to be thrown out.
“The fact that Clarence Thomas continues to fail to recuse himself, given the activities of his wife that are directly related to the insurrection, is mind-boggling,” wrote Norm OrnsteinContributing editor The Atlantic.