US court rejects Trump bid to keep Capitol riot documents secret

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A US federal appeals court on Thursday rejected former president Donald Trump’s bid to prevent the release of White House records relating to the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
The appeals court agreed with a lower court ruling that President Joe Biden could waive executive privilege on the records, so that Trump supporters could hand them over to a Congressional panel investigating the violence.
Trump, who has been accused of fomenting the attack on the US Congress, sought to exercise his privilege as a former president to keep the documents and phone records that might relate to the attack a secret.
But the court said Biden’s judgment carried more weight in the case. “The right of a former president certainly enjoys no greater weight than that of the incumbent,” the appeals court said in its ruling.
“In this case, President Biden, as the head of the Executive Branch, has specifically found that Congress has demonstrated a compelling need for these very documents and that disclosure is in the best interests of the nation,” the court said.
The ruling did not trigger the immediate release of the records. The appeals court said that Trump’s lawyers would have two weeks to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
There, Trump’s attorneys are expected to request a new freeze on the release while the high court reviews the unprecedented case. “Regardless of today’s decision by the appeals court, this case was always destined for the Supreme Court,” said Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington.
“President Trump’s duty to defend the Constitution and the Office of the Presidency continues, and he will keep fighting for every American and every future administration.” The appeals court said the public interest was greater than Trump’s own in relation to the records, which are held by the National Archives.
“That public interest is heightened when, as here, the legislature is proceeding with urgency to prevent violent attacks on the federal government and disruptions to the peaceful transfer of power,” it said.
The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 violence, in which hundreds of Trump supporters forced the shutdown of Congress and delayed a joint session to confirm that Joe Biden had won the November 2020 election over Trump and would become president, seeks the records.