WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Thursday rejected a request by former President Donald Trump to withhold records from the House of Representatives probe of the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, saying he had provided “no basis” for his request.
“Former President Trump has provided no basis for this court to override President Biden’s judgment,” a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit wrote.
President Joe Biden had previously determined that the records, which belong to the executive branch, should not be subject to executive privilege and that turning them over to Congress was in the best interest of the nation.
“Both branches agree that there is a unique legislative need for these documents and that they are directly relevant to the Committee’s inquiry into an attack on the legislative branch and its constitutional role in the peaceful transfer of power,” the court said.
The ruling marks yet another blow to the Republican former president, who has waged an ongoing legal battle with the committee over access to documents and witnesses.
The House Select Committee investigating the riot has asked the National Archives, the U.S. agency housing Trump’s White House records, to produce visitor logs, phone records and written communications between his advisers.
The panel has said it needs the records to understand any role Trump may have played in fomenting the violence.
Trump has argued that the materials requested by the House committee were covered by the executive privilege legal doctrine that protects the confidentiality of some White House communications.
Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, who heads the select committee, and its vice chair, Republican Liz Cheney, issued a statement applauding the court decision which they said respected the panel’s interest in obtaining the records.
“We will get to the truth,” they said.
Trump’s lawyers have called the Democratic-led investigation politically motivated, and argue that the documents are protected.
This is now the second time a federal court has ruled against Trump in the matter.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Nov. 9 rejected Trump’s arguments, saying he had not acknowledged the “deference owed” to Biden’s determination that the committee could access the records. adding: “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”
The court on Thursday gave Trump 14 days to file an emergency request to the Supreme Court to appeal the ruling.
“Regardless of today’s decision by the appeals court, this case was always destined for the Supreme Court,” Trump lawyer Liz Harrington tweeted. (Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis, Dan Grebler and Michael Perry)