Former President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to prevent an “unprecedented encroachment on executive privilege” if White House records are transmitted to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
The appeal was expected, since a lower court declined to stop the transmission of certain documents from the National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA, to the Jan. 6 panel. The justices now will have to decide whether to hear the appeal.
Trump’s lawyers told the justices that they should block the transfer and agree to hear the former president’s appeal to give them a chance to make a reasoned decision before the release of information, particularly because the next presidential transfer of power is more than three years away.
Trump has asserted executive privilege over some of the documents the panel requests as a former president. But President Joe Biden has decided executive privilege should not be asserted and allowed NARA to send the records to congressional investigators.
Trump’s lawyers told the justices in a petition that the “sweeping” request for records from the panel seeks many of Trump’s confidential records and implicates “important constitutional and statutory concerns arising from the Presidential Records Act, separation of powers, and executive privilege.”
And in the application to stop the release of records while the Supreme Court decides the case, Trump’s lawyers again brought up the idea that requesting these records so soon after a president leaves office will become a political weapon. “The disagreement between an incumbent President and his predecessor from a rival political party is both novel and highlights the importance of executive privilege and the ability of Presidents and their advisers to reliably make and receive full and frank advice, without concern that communications will be publicly released to meet a political objective,” Trump’s application states.
Biden had disagreed with that assessment for at least the first three batches of records in the House panel’s request, determining that the public interest in the House probe outweighs the confidentiality concerns underlying executive privilege.
The House Jan. 6 panel requested records related to dozens of people, both in and out of the Trump administration. That includes Trump and his family members, as well as “any documents and communications involving White House personnel and any Member of Congress” related to the Jan. 6 attack or to Trump and his allies’ questioning of the validity of the presidential election.
The case is one of several pending court actions related to the Jan. 6 panel.