US appeals court rejects Trump bid to withhold Jan 6 riot records

Donald Trump has tried to exert ‘executive privilege’ to block release of documents to House panel probing Capitol riot.

Hundreds of supporters of then president Donald Trump, carrying US and Trump 2020 flags, are seen as they storm the Capitol Hill with white smoke in the back ground.
On January 6, a mob of Trump supporters overran the seat of the US legislature as Congress was meeting to certify Biden's election victory [File: John Minchillo/AP Photo]

A United States appeals court has rejected an attempt by former President Donald Trump to hold back the release of White House records linked to the deadly January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

A three-judge panel of the US Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, DC said on Thursday that Trump had provided “no basis” for his request.

“Both branches agree that there is a unique legislative need for these documents and that they are directly relevant to the Committee’s inquiry into an attack on the legislative branch and its constitutional role in the peaceful transfer of power,” the judges wrote in their decision.

“The Committee is investigating a singular event in this nation’s history, in which there is a sufficient factual predicate for inferring that former President Trump and his advisors played a materially relevant role.”

The former Republican president had tried to exert “executive privilege” to block the release of the documents to a US House of Representatives committee investigating the Capitol riot.

But Joe Biden’s administration in October rejected that argument, prompting Trump to file a legal challenge.

On January 6, a mob of Trump supporters overran the seat of the US legislature as Congress was meeting to certify Biden’s election victory.

Trump, who delivered an incendiary speech just before the riot and had for weeks repeated false claims that the presidential election was stolen from him, was later impeached for “incitement of insurrection”.

The appeals court on Thursday gave Trump 14 days to file an emergency request to the Supreme Court to appeal its ruling.

The decision comes a day after Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, sued the House committee investigating the riot, as well as Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after the panel said it would recommend moving forward with contempt charges against him.

Meadows’s lawyer said this week that his client would stop cooperating with the committee.

George Terwilliger said in a letter on Tuesday that a deposition would be “untenable” for Meadows and that the congressional panel “has no intention of respecting boundaries” concerning questions that Trump has claimed are off-limits due to “executive privilege”.

Meadows is seen as a key witness to Trump’s role in efforts to stop the January 6 certification of Biden’s election win.

The committee said on Thursday that it was moving towards holding Meadows in contempt of Congress.

The panel said it would hold a business meeting on Monday to vote on a report recommending the full House cite Meadows for contempt of Congress and refer him for federal prosecution.

Another longtime former Trump adviser, Steve Bannon, will also face criminal charges on July 18 for his refusal to appear in the congressional inquiry, a judge said earlier this week.

Bannon was indicted on one contempt count for refusing to appear for a deposition before the committee and a second count for refusing to produce documents.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies