Washington, Jan 19 (EFE).- The US Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a request by former President Donald Trump to keep confidential some 700 documents pertaining to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol in which five people died.
The high court’s decision opens the door for the National Archives, which has custody of those documents, to deliver them to the House of Representatives special commission investigating the violent attack by a large mob of Trump supporters.
The precise content of those documents is not publicly known, but allegedly they include e-mails, speech drafts and lists of people who visited the White House that could reveal exactly what happened at the presidential residence during the Capitol assault and in the days surrounding that event.
In its four-page ruling, the court backed the decisions that had been rendered by several lower courts, all of which rejected the ex-president’s attempt to keep the documents hidden from scrutiny.
However, the justices did not rule on whether Trump still enjoys special rights known as “executive privilege” given that he is no longer president. If he is found to still retain these rights, then this would mean that certain information pertaining to his presidency could not be released without his permission.
Trump had claimed executive privilege in attempting to prevent the documents from coming to light, but all judges who heard his petitions in lower courts concluded that he no longer enjoys this right because he is no longer president.
The case dates back to the beginning of October, when President Joe Biden authorized the National Archives to hand over the documents to the commission investigating the Capitol attack.
A few days later, on Oct. 18, Trump filed suit in federal court in Washington DC to block the documents’ release but in November a judge in that court ruled against him.
Trump’s attorneys then appealed that ruling but the appeals court also denied the ex-president’s request, and so the Supreme Court was his venue of last resort.
The high court is made up of nine justices, of which six are considered conservative and three are liberal. In addition, Trump himself nominated three of the conservative magistrates: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
All the justices named by Trump ruled against him and only conservative Magistrate Clarence Thomas, named by former Republican President George H.W. Bush, ruled in favor of the ex-president.
The House commission demanding the documents was created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and includes a majority of Democratic congresspeople, although there are two Republican members – Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – both of whom are at significant odds with Trump.
The commission’s task is to investigate why the Capitol assault occurred, who was responsible for it and what can be done to ensure that a similar incident never happens again.
With that duty before it, the commission has requested access to documents that to date have remained secret, including the 700 Trump White House documents, and it has called former members of the Trump administration to testify under oath before it, including controversial rightist ideologue and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who refused to testify and has been criminally charged with contempt of Congress.
On Jan. 6, 2021, some 10,000 people – most of them Trump supporters – marched to the Capitol and some 800 broke into the building in an attempt to prevent lawmakers gathered there from ratifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Biden defeated Trump.
Five people died during the assault and about 140 police and security officers were attacked by the mob, with many of them being serious injured.