The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, may obtain White House records related to the insurrection, foiling President Donald Trump’s attempts to stop their release.
Clarence Thomas was the only justice to dissent. The other eight, including the three nominated to the court by Trump, agreed that the former president’s attempt to invoke executive privilege was not applicable and that the hundreds of pages of documents maintained by the National Archives can be used in the committee’s investigation.
The committee later tweeted that within hours, it had “already begun to receive records that the former President had hoped to keep hidden.”
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who authored the majority opinion agreeing not to intervene with lower court rulings on the matter, wrote that while it is reasonable for former presidents to keep some records private, “It could be argued that the strength of a privilege claim should diminish to some extent as the years pass after a former President’s term in office.”
Trump, whose supporters carried out the attack on the Capitol immediately after he gave a speech insisting the 2020 election was stolen from him, has fought the bipartisan committee on these records since its members began seeking them last August. President Joe Biden has refused to cooperate with Trump on the matter and repeatedly denied Trump’s requests.
“President Biden has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States,” White House general counsel Dana Remus said in October. “Accordingly, President Biden does not uphold the former president’s assertion of privilege.”
Trump has also called on his allies who have been subpoenaed by the committee not to comply with the orders, and several of them face legal consequences as a result. The latest subpoenas cover some of Trump’s closest advisers, including Rudy Giuliani, and the legal team that pursued lawsuits attempting to overturn the 2020 election results.