Former President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to step in and block the House committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 from gaining access to some of his presidential documents.
Lower courts have ruled against Mr. Trump’s claims of privilege, but he is pursuing an appeal. In the meantime, he asked Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to stay the enforcement of the lower court ruling.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers say the House committee, led by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson and comprised of Democrats and two fierce Trump opponents from the GOP, have overstepped the bounds of legitimate congressional inquiry. The Trump team says what should have been an inquiry into security conditions that allowed a mob to take over the Capitol has instead become a political crusade to embarrass the former president.
President Biden has sided with the panel, waiving executive privilege to grant the lawmakers access to Mr. Trump’s documents.
“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,” the Trump lawyers wrote in the petition to the high court.
The committee has blanketed Mr. Trump’s former employees and political allies with demands for documents and interviews as it pursues an accounting of what the Trump world was doing as the mob descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6.
In the case of Mr. Trump’s documents, the committee is trying to get a look at his schedules and notes on his activities and communications as he was trying to gin up opposition to the Electoral College vote counting that took place that day at the Capitol.
The mob interrupted the count but after law enforcement regained control of the building, lawmakers returned and completed the certification of Mr. Biden’s election win.
The documents in question are being held by the National Archives, which takes possession of all government records.
Under the law, an outgoing president can delay the public release of his records under executive privilege, but the current president at the time of a request may waive the privilege. Mr. Biden has done so.
Mr. Trump’s legal team is arguing both that the House committee’s investigative request is invalid and that Mr. Biden was wrong to waive the privilege.
The Trump team said if allowed to stand, Mr. Biden’s precedent will eviscerate the law’s intent of allowing a president to seal off records for a period of time.
“In an increasingly partisan political climate, such records requests will become the norm regardless of what party is in power. Consequently, this Court’s review is critical,” the lawyers said.
A federal judge in Washington and later the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia both sided with the committee.
The appeals court had stayed its ruling for two weeks, with a Dec. 23 deadline for Mr. Trump to seek a higher review. By filing his petition Thursday he keeps the appeals court stay in place until Chief Justice Roberts or the full Supreme Court rules on his new request.