The congressional committee probing the Jan. 6 riot asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to reject former President Donald Trump's request to shield his White House records from investigators.
“Although the facts are unprecedented, this case is not a difficult one. [Trump] attempts to overturn the current President’s reasonable determination that the Select Committee is entitled to three tranches of Presidential records responsive to its request,” the House committee said in a 44-page court filing.
“To the extent any novel questions linger in the background, this case would be a poor vehicle to address them. This Court’s review is unwarranted, and [Trump's] petition ... should be denied,” the panel added.
Trump asked the Supreme Court last week to block the National Archives from turning over any of his White House records to the Jan. 6 committee after lower courts sided with the panel's efforts.
The court is likely to seek a response from the National Archives before it decides whether to take the case. There is no deadline for the court to act.
The House committee is pursuing a trove of documents related to the events of Jan. 6, including records of communications between the White House and the Department of Justice leading up to the attack on the Capitol. Trump has objected, claiming executive privilege over the documents, but President Joe Biden declined to deem the records privileged. Instead, Biden directed the National Archives to hand over the materials to the committee.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled this month that Trump has not shown any specific harm that he would suffer from the disclosure of the documents. In addition, the appeals court said that while Trump retained limited authority to claim executive privilege, it wasn't strong enough to overcome Biden's determination that Congress has a legitimate need for the records.
Trump's legal team has argued that the courts were wrong to find that the House committee has a legitimate legislative purpose in seeking the documents. Its real purpose isn't merely fact-finding, his attorneys have argued, but an attempt to seek information that would embarrass Trump.
Earlier this week, the Jan. 6 committee reached an agreement with the Biden White House to defer its request for some Trump records, indicating there were documents that Biden was not willing to turn over to the panel. The agreement mostly shields records that do not involve the events of Jan. 6 but were covered by the committee’s request for documents from the Trump White House about the events of that day.