The House committee — charged with investigating the US Capitol attack to provide recommendations for preventing such assaults in the future — seeks the documents, currently held by the National Archives, to explore Trump’s role in trying to overturn the election, including his appearance at a January 6 rally when he directed followers to go to the Capitol where lawmakers were set to certify the election results and “fight” for their county.
At issue are hundreds of documents including activity logs, schedules, speech notes and three pages of handwritten notes from then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — paperwork that could reveal goings-on inside the West Wing as Trump supporters gathered in Washington and then overran the US Capitol, disrupting the certification of the 2020 vote. The records could answer some of the most closely guarded facts of what happened between Trump and other high-level officials, including those under siege on Capitol Hill on January 6.
Trump is also seeking to keep secret a a draft proclamation honoring two police officers who died in the siege and memos and other documents about supposed election fraud and efforts to overturn Trump’s loss of the presidency, the National Archives has said in court documents.
The fight over the documents stems from a lawsuit Trump filed against the Archives as well as the House Committee, seeking to stop the records’ disclosure. Trump is arguing that those documents should remain secret under the former President’s own assertions of executive privilege, though so far, lower courts have rejected his arguments. Thursday’s filing with the Supreme Court marks an escalation of the dispute, in which President Joe Biden has determined that withholding the documents based on executive privilege is not in the interest of the United States. In a letter to the National Archives in October, White House Counsel Dana A. Remus said that the President had declined to assert privilege because Congress has a “compelling need in service of its legislative functions to understand the circumstances that led to these horrific events.”
Lawyers for Trump argue that the committee exceeded its authority and that its document requests are too broad and cover sensitive and privileged records that are not pertinent to a valid legislative purpose. They say the requests violate the separation of powers as well as the Presidential Records Act, and that Biden’s decision to not to assert privilege should not overrule Trump’s desires to keep them away from the committee. Alternatively, they argue that the courts should review the documents to determine whether Trump’s claims are valid.
This story is breaking and will be updated.