A special House panel tasked with probing the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill issued wide-ranging subpoenas for documents from the Trump administration around that time.
For his part, President Donald Trump has consistently cited executive privilege in seeking to block the release of those documents — and the fight is now in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Trump’s lawyers cite prior ruling
According to the Washington Free Beacon, Trump’s attorneys are arguing that the committee’s investigation serves no legitimate purpose and seeks only to retaliate against the former president and his supporters.
The attorneys pointed to public remarks by members of the panel in concluding that the entire probe is a violation of the high court’s 2020 guidance regarding congressional subpoenas and executive privilege.
In Trump’s petition to block the “invasive” subpoenas, his lawyers repeatedly cite the Trump v. Mazars case in which the Supreme Court rejected a congressional committee’s attempt to subpoena the then-president’s tax records.
That decision set guidelines for future subpoenas for presidential records — namely that they must be linked to a clear legislative purpose and not solely for the purpose of public exposure or criminal investigation, which is not under the purview of Congress.
According to some of the members of the Democratic-led committee, however, it appears that the ultimate goal is to probe alleged criminal wrongdoing on the part of the former president.
“All the planning that went into it”
During an interview in November, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that the committee is in the position to “expose all the malefactors, follow the evidence, wherever it leads, tell the American people the story of what went into Jan. 6, all the planning that went into it, who was behind it in terms of the money.”
Trump’s lawyers argue that Schiff more explicitly described the committee’s goal as fully exposing “what Donald Trump was doing, what was he not doing, at the time that the Capitol was being attacked, and make the case publicly.”
Trump reportedly made his case by citing remarks from Schiff and Rep. Adam Kinsinger (R-IL), one of the panel’s two Republican members.
If successful in proving that the panel is not engaged in legitimate legislative business, Trump could emerge successful in arguing his administration’s documents are protected by executive privilege.
Both sides in the case are asking the Supreme Court to fast-track its decision, so a ruling could be announced sooner rather than later.