WASHINGTON (The Hill) – Former President Trump on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to block the National Archives from turning over records from his White House to the House Jan. 6 select committee after a series of defeats in the lower courts.
Trump’s lawyers filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court ahead of a Thursday deadline to seek a review imposed by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which rejected the former president’s suit earlier this month.
They argued that the circuit court’s decision would set a bad precedent in future disputes over access to former presidents’ confidential records and asked for a temporary order blocking the release while the Supreme Court considers whether to give the case a full hearing.
“The D.C. Circuit’s opinion endorsed the power of a congressional committee to broadly seek the records of a prior Presidential administration and, as long as the incumbent President agrees to waive executive privilege, gain unfettered access to confidential communications of that administration,” Trump’s filing reads. “This troubling ruling lacks any meaningful or objective limiting principle. 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.”
Trump sued the National Archives and the select committee in October after President Biden waived executive privilege over hundreds of pages of records that the lawmakers had requested in their investigation into the Trump White House’s handling of the Capitol riot.
The case has progressed at an unusually rapid pace for the courts. Both a district court judge and a three-judge panel for the D.C. Circuit quickly rejected Trump’s arguments that he’s entitled to deference when a sitting president and Congress both believe that his documents should be released.
“On the record before us, former President Trump has provided no basis for this court to override President Biden’s judgment and the agreement and accommodations worked out between the Political Branches over these documents,” Judge Patricia Millett wrote in the D.C. Circuit decision earlier this month.
Trump’s lawyers have argued that Biden’s disregard of the former president’s own assertions of executive privilege is unconstitutional. In their filings on Thursday, they urged the court to put a halt to the document release in order to allow the justices to fully consider the legal and constitutional questions that the case presents.
“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 filing reads.
A temporary stay could be granted unilaterally by the justice who receives the emergency application, which in this case is Chief Justice John Roberts, but in order for the Supreme Court to take up the case, it will require the approval of at least four of the justices.