Washington: A bid by former president Donald Trump to block the release of documents related to the January 6 Capitol attack to a Congressional committee was rejected by the US Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The decision means the documents, held by a federal agency that stores government and historical records, can be disclosed even as litigation over the matter continues in lower courts. This also means more than 700 documents that could shed light on the attack can be transferred to Congress.
Trump who tried to shield behind claims of executive privilege, had sought to prevent the records held by the National Archives from being given to the panel investigating the assault on Congress by his supporters.
As per reports, the documents also included materials in the files of his former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy counsel Pat Philbin and advisor Stephen Miller.
In a filing with the Supreme Court, Trump's lawyers had argued that "a former president has the right to assert executive privilege, even after his term of office."
They condemned the congressional records request as "strikingly broad" and accused the committee in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives of conducting a probe of a "political foe."
The appeals court said the public interest was greater than Trump's own in relation to the records.
Trump, who has been accused of fomenting the Capitol assault, had also asked the nation's highest court to stay a ruling by a federal appeals court, which rejected his efforts to keep the documents secret.
But the Supreme Court, in an 8-1 vote, refused to issue a stay and upheld the lower court's ruling, in a significant setback for the former president.
Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative, was the only justice in favour of issuing a stay.
President Joe Biden waived executive privilege on the Trump records so they could be handed over to the committee and the appeals court decided that "the right of a former president certainly enjoys no greater weight than that of the incumbent."
The documents are being sought by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attempt by hundreds of Trump supporters to block congressional certification of Biden's November 2020 election victory.