(Trends Wide) — The Supreme Court’s refusal to block the release of Trump White House documents to the House committee on January 6 represents a huge defeat for the former president’s frantic effort to cover up his 2021 coup attempt. .
Wednesday’s big heist — another case in which the courts rebuke Donald Trump’s attempts to use them for his own political gain — will allow the commission to dig even deeper inside his West Wing and understand what was going on before and during his mob’s attack on the US Capitol. It is also likely that the former president sees it as a betrayal of the court’s conservative majority, which he cemented with three elected to the highest bench whom he saw as a legal insurance policy, since he has continually tried to twist government institutions. to avoid accountability.
The decision means that 700 documents — including agendas, speech and call records, and three pages of handwritten notes from then-White House Secretary General Mark Meadows — can be transferred from the National Archives to the House committee, a process that was already underway this Wednesday night.
The commission’s chairman, a Democrat from Mississippi, and Vice President Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, hailed the court’s decision as a “victory for the rule of law and American democracy” and vowed to uncover all the facts about the 6/6 violence. of January and its causes.
Trump had mounted an intense effort to avoid such scrutiny and had already lost cases in the district and appellate courts as part of a wide-ranging campaign of obstruction of the commission, which included sprawling claims of executive privilege by former aides, including some. like his populist political guru Steve Bannon, who were not serving as White House officials at the time of the insurrection.
Another commission member, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, said on Trends Wide’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” that the Supreme Court’s ruling was a “great deal to get the truth out.”
“We’re going to get these documents and we’re going to go through them and help rebuild this picture,” the California Democrat said.
The case came after President Joe Biden refused to support Trump’s attempt to block the release of the documents, arguing that the attack on Capitol Hill was such an affront to the Constitution that it must be investigated.
The Court did not rule on the key legal question of what happens when there is a dispute between a current and former president over the scope of executive privilege, a concept intended to ensure that the councils of those subordinate to a commander-in-chief can remain in private. But he allowed an appeals court ruling to stand that Trump had failed to show that his concerns about executive branch confidentiality should prevail over the “deep interests in disclosure” cited by Biden.
Trump’s lawyers had asked the Supreme Court for a full review of the case, citing important issues of privilege that will play out in history. But the commission made a request for an expedited review just before Christmas, citing the urgency of its investigation.
The ruling closes one of the avenues of Trump’s legal strategy: running out the clock on the investigation before the midterm elections in November and a possible inauguration of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives.
The net tightens around the West Wing of the former president
The Supreme Court ruling will enter into a heated debate over efforts by former Trump aides to assert executive privilege to avoid testifying before the commission. Some of those claims are especially unusual and, according to many legal experts, frivolous, because they cover conversations between officials and people outside the company, and not with the then president.
Wednesday’s ruling, in which only conservative Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, will also offer a new brand of legitimacy to the select committee, amid claims by pro-Trump Republicans that it is a constituted witch hunt. illegally despite having been voted by the House. It will also fuel the race against time for the commission, which is trying to complete its work before a possible new Republican majority shuts it down.
The net has tightened significantly around the Trump White House in recent weeks.
Trends Wide reported earlier this month that the commission had received first-hand information from multiple sources about what Trump had been doing in the White House during the insurrection. Vice President Mike Pence’s then-national security adviser Keith Kellogg, who was with Trump on that notorious day, also testified before the panel, sources told Trends Wide’s Jamie Gangel.
This Tuesday, Trends Wide reported exclusively that the commission had subpoenaed and obtained the records of the phone numbers of one of the sons of the former president, Eric Trump, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, engaged to his brother, Donald Trump Jr. The commission is interested in investigating the level of coordination between the Trump team and the organizers of the Washington rally in which the then president told supporters who later moved to Capitol Hill to “fight like crazy” to prevent Congress from certifying the electoral victory of Biden.
Commission members also want more information about the extreme legal scheme hatched by some Trump advisers, designed to convince Pence to interfere in the process of counting states’ electoral votes. And the panel wants answers about why it took so long for Trump to ask his supporters to leave Capitol Hill.
But even if Wednesday’s decision helps the commission paint an even more dire picture of Trump’s culpability for the riots and his behavior on Jan. 6, it seems unlikely to significantly change the tense politics of the insurrection. One part of the GOP, especially in the House of Representatives, went to great lengths to whitewash Trump’s role that day, as he contemplates a possible return to the presidency in 2024. Millions of Trump supporters are persuaded by his false claims of fraud. campaign and its argument that the real insurrection took place in the November 2020 elections, and not on January 6, 2021.
A blow to Donald Trump’s perverse sense of loyalty
There is no doubt, however, that Trump will be apoplectic because his three Supreme Court nominees, Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, did not publicly dissent from denying his attempt to keep his West Wing records secret.
Trump repeatedly lashed out at the Supreme Court for dismissing his bogus claims of voter fraud, claiming he was the victim of miscarriage of justice even though his delusional cases were also dismissed by multiple lower courts. Even before the 2020 election, the then president had said it was important to quickly confirm Barrett so he could be in his place to vote in any election dispute.
Throughout his presidency, Trump has seemed to equate cabinet and judicial appointments with an act of patronage, viewing those selected as a debt to be repaid by pursuing his interests rather than honoring the rule of law and the Constitution. He often railed against judges who rejected the administration’s policies, considering them politically motivated if they disagreed with his view of a case. The most egregious example of this almost feudal desire for loyalty came when he pressed then-FBI Director James Comey for a pledge of allegiance early in his administration, before subsequently firing him over the Russia investigation.
The Supreme Court ruling was the second legal blow for Trump in as many days. In a court filing late Tuesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office had uncovered “misleading or fraudulent” financial statements from Trump’s business empire. The prosecutor is seeking to force Trump, Trump Jr. and the former president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, to testify as part of her civil investigation into the Trump Organization.
The former president has denied doing anything wrong, and a Trump Organization spokesman said in a statement that the “accusations are baseless and will be vigorously defended.”
The clouds gathering around Trump would pose a serious legal and reputational risk to a normal politician, but given his talent for impunity, they are far from certain to curb his political aspirations.
Vogue’s Ariane, Katelyn Polantz, Jeremy Herb and Trends Wide’s Tierney Sneed contributed to this article.