U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration can hand over some of Donald Trump’s White House records to a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capital riot, an appeals court ruled.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington said Trump had provided “no basis” for overriding Biden’s decision to waive executive privilege over the documents and cooperate with the probe by a House select committee.
Trump is vowing to take the case to the Supreme Court.
“Regardless of today’s decision by the the appeals court, this case was always destined for the Supreme Court,” Trump’s spokeswoman Liz Harrington said. “President Trump’s duty to defend the Constitution and the office of the presidency continues, and he will keep fighting for every American and every future administration.”
Trump has 14 days to ask the Supreme Court to review the case and for an injunction from the high court barring the release of the documents during the appeal.
Trump along with some of his allies have been fighting demands for documents and testimony from the committee. Political strategist Steve Bannon faces contempt of Congress charges for defying a subpoena from the committee and on Wednesday former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sued to block two subpoenas he has received.
Biden and the House reasonably concluded that access to a subset of presidential communications “is necessary to address a matter of great constitutional moment for the Republic,” the unanimous three-judge panel said in Thursday’s ruling.
“The events of January 6th exposed the fragility of those democratic institutions and traditions that we had perhaps come to take for granted,” the panel said. Trump “has given this court no legal reason to cast aside President Biden’s assessment of the Executive Branch interests at stake.”
The National Archives records pertain to White House documents provided to Trump or Meadows with terms such as “rigged” election or “stealing” the election.
“Today, the courts have once again rejected the former president’s campaign to obstruct Congress’s investigation into the January 6th insurrection,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “No one can be allowed to stand in the way of the truth — particularly not the previous president, who incited the insurrection.”
The panel cited Biden’s “carefully reasoned” explanation for his decision as well as “Congress’s uniquely vital interest in studying the January 6th attack on itself” and safeguard its operations.
The court said it also based its ruling on “Mr. Trump’s failure even to allege, let alone demonstrate, any particularized harm that would arise from disclosure.”
The ruling upholds a lower court’s decision denying Trump’s motion for an injunction against the House committee.
The Jan. 6 committee said it will meet Dec. 13 to consider a report recommending to the House of Representatives citing Meadows for criminal contempt of Congress for defying the subpoenas. Bannon is scheduled to go on trial in July.
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