A US appeals court on Thursday, December 9, rejected a bid by former US President Donald Trump to block Capitol riot investigators from accessing his White House records.
Trump, a Republican, has argued that his past communications are protected by executive privilege, under which presidential files can be kept secret but current President Joe Biden has waived executive privilege on the documents.
Lawmakers are trying to find out if Trump had foreknowledge of the riot, which took place on 6 January when his supporters stormed the Capitol building as Congress was meeting to certify Joe Biden’s presidential election result.
The panel wants to see phone records, visitor logs and other White House documents that could shed light on events leading up to the attack on Congress.
Since the 2020 election loss, Trump has refused to acknowledge losing the election to Biden, making claims – without evidence of mass voter fraud. Trump is expected to appeal against Thursday’s decision, which will then be passed to the Supreme Court.
Announcing their ruling, three judges from the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the former president had provided “no basis” for them to grant his request to override Biden’s judgment.
They said both branches of government agreed that there was a unique legislative need for the records, which were directly relevant to the attack.
The inquiry is being conducted by a committee set up by the House of Representatives, dominated by Democrats.
Trump’s lawyers had said in an earlier filing to the appeals court that their client could “suffer irreparable harm through the effective denial of a constitutional and statutory right to be fully heard on a serious disagreement between the former and incumbent president”.
More than 670 people have been arrested for the invasion of the Capitol complex.