Analysis: Supreme Court decision is a bitter legal and personal blow to Trump

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Wednesday’s blow – another case where the courts have rebuked Donald Trump’s attempts to use them for his own political gain – will allow the committee to go even deeper into its West Wing and understand what was going on before and during his crowd. attack on the United States Capitol. It will also likely be seen by the former president as a betrayal by the court’s conservative majority, which he cemented with three choices for the upper bench which he viewed as a legal insurance policy as he continually sought to bend governing institutions to avoid accountability.

The decision means that 700 documents – including schedules, speech and call logs and three pages of handwritten notes from then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows – can be transferred from the National Archives to the committee. of the House, a process that was already underway on Wednesday evening.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, and Vice Chairman Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, hailed the court’s decision as a “victory for the rule of law and American democracy” and vowed to discover all the facts about the violence of January 6 and its causes.

Trump had worked hard to avoid such scrutiny and had already lost cases in the district and appellate courts amid a sweeping campaign of stonewalling the committee, which included sweeping claims of executive privilege by d former aides – even some, like his populist political guru Steve Bannon, who were not serving White House officials at the time of the insurgency.

Another committee member, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” that the Supreme Court’s decision was “a really big deal in getting the truth out.”

“We’re going to get those documents and we’re going to go through them and help piece together that picture,” the California Democrat said.

The case unfolded after President Joe Biden refused to support Trump’s attempt to block the release of the documents, arguing that the attack on the Capitol was such an affront to the Constitution that it should be done. subject of an investigation. The Supreme Court has not ruled on the key legal question of what happens when there is a dispute between a current president and a former president over the scope of executive privilege – a concept intended to ensure that advice given to a commander-in-chief by subordinates may remain private. But it allowed upholding an appeals court ruling that found Trump had failed to demonstrate that his concerns about executive confidentiality should outweigh the “deep interests in disclosure” cited by Biden. .

Trump’s lawyers had asked the Supreme Court for a full review of the case, citing important questions of privilege that will reverberate through history. But the committee made a request for an expedited review just before Christmas, citing the urgency of its investigation. The ruling closes one avenue of Trump’s legal strategy: missing investigative time before November’s midterm elections and a possible GOP takeover of the House.

The net is tightening around Trump West Wing

The Supreme Court’s decision will play into an intense debate over efforts by former Trump aides to assert executive privilege to avoid testifying before the committee. Some of these claims are particularly unusual and, according to many legal experts, frivolous because they cover conversations between officials and outsiders, rather than the then president.

Wednesday’s decision, in which only conservative Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, will also offer a new brand of legitimacy to the select committee, amid claims by pro-Trump Republicans that it is a witch hunt. illegally constituted despite being passed by the House. It will also spur the committee’s race against time as it attempts to complete its work before a possible new Republican majority shuts it down.

The net has tightened considerably around Trump’s White House in recent weeks.

A running list of people the January 6 committee has subpoenaed or asked to appear
CNN reported earlier this month that the committee received first-hand information from multiple sources about what Trump had done in the White House during the insurgency. Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser, Keith Kellogg, who was with Trump on that notorious day, also testified before the panel, sources told CNN’s Jamie Gangel.
On Tuesday, CNN exclusively reported that the committee subpoenaed and obtained phone number records for one of the ex-president’s sons, Eric Trump, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is engaged to his brother, Donald. Trump Jr. The committee is interested in investigating the level of coordination between Trump’s team and organizers of the Washington rally at which the then-president told supporters who later moved to the Capitol to “fight like hell” to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s election victory. Committee members also want more information about the extreme legal scheme hatched by some Trump advisers aimed at convincing Pence to interfere in the process of counting state electoral votes. And the panel wants answers on why it took Trump so long to call on his supporters to leave the Capitol.

But even if Wednesday’s ruling helps the committee paint an even bleaker picture of Trump’s culpability in the riot and his behavior on Jan. 6, it seems unlikely to significantly reshape the strained politics of the ‘insurrection. Whole sections of the Republican Party, particularly in the House, did their best to whitewash Trump’s role that day as he considered a possible return to the presidency in 2024. Millions of Trump supporters are convinced by its false allegations of voter fraud and its argument that the real insurrection took place during the November 2020 election, rather than January 6, 2021.

A blow to Trump’s perverse sense of loyalty

There’s no doubt, however, that Trump will be apoplectic that his three Supreme Court nominees, Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, haven’t publicly dissuaded him from refusing his attempt to keep his files secret. west wing. Trump has repeatedly criticized the Supreme Court for rejecting his bogus claims of voter fraud, saying he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice, even though his delusional cases were also thrown out by several lower courts. Even before the 2020 election, the then-president said it was important to quickly confirm Barrett so she could be in place to vote on any election disputes.

Throughout his presidency, Trump appeared to equate judicial and Cabinet appointments with an act of patronage, viewing those selected like him as owing a debt that would be repaid by pursuing his interests rather than upholding the State of law and the Constitution. He frequently railed against judges who rejected administration policies, viewing them as politically motivated if they disagreed with his view on a case. The most notorious example of this desire for almost feudal loyalty came when he pressed then-FBI Director James Comey for a loyalty pledge early in his administration, only to later fire him for the Russia investigation.
The Supreme Court’s decision was the second legal blow to Trump in as many days. In a filing late Tuesday evening, New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office uncovered “misleading or fraudulent” financial statements from Trump’s business empire. She is seeking to compel Trump, Trump Jr. and the ex-president’s daughter Ivanka Trump to testify as part of her civil investigation into the Trump Organization.

The former president has denied any wrongdoing and a spokesperson for the Trump Organization said in a statement that “the allegations are without merit and will be vigorously defended.”

The clouds gathering around Trump would pose a serious legal and reputational risk to a normal politician, but given his knack for impunity, it is far from certain that they will dampen his political aspirations.

CNN’s Vogue’s Ariane, Katelyn Polantz, Jeremy Herb and Tierney Sneed contributed to this story.

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