A US judge has decided to allow the commission investigating the attack on the Capitol building to access some of the White House records of former President Donald Trump.
Trump was seeking to uphold his executive privileges as president, enabling him to keep presidential documents secret.
The investigation is trying to establish whether Trump had prior knowledge of the riots.
Supporters of the former president stormed the Capitol on January 6, during the congressional hearing in which he ratified Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
Trump refused to admit he lost the election last year, claiming – without evidence – that it was rigged.
The investigation is being conducted by a committee set up by the House of Representatives, which is dominated by Democrats.
The committee wants to see a collection of phone records, visitor records and other documents from the White House that could shed some light on the events that led to the attack on Congress.
The committee issued subpoenas to a number of Trump aides to testify before members of Congress.
Trump, a Republican, has argued that his communications at the White House are protected and therefore should not be released.
What did the judge say in the ruling?
But Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that the National Archives, the federal agency that keeps records, must comply with the commission’s request.
And she said in her 39-page ruling that Congress has the right to see the documents, especially since the current president has agreed to that.
The judge wrote that Trump “does not give due respect to the judgment of the incumbent president. His position appears to be based on the idea that his executive authority” has been there forever. But chiefs are not kings, and the plaintiff is not chief.”
Trump, as a former president, had the right to executive privilege, the judge said, but the current president is “in a better position to protect the interests of the executive branch.”
What do you think of Trump’s defense?
It is not likely that the records will be available to the committee in the near future, as the legal battle in the Supreme Court is likely to be over.
Taylor Bowdwich, a Trump spokesman, said the ruling was likely to appeal. He added that Trump was committed to defending the right of US presidents to assert “executive privilege” and “will go ahead with this.”
But Benny Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chair of the committee, called the lawsuit “nothing but an attempt to delay and obstruct our investigation.”
Sixteen of Trump’s closest aides have been summoned in the past two days. They include Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, Stephen Miller, Trump’s top adviser, Bill Stebbin, the campaign manager, Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, and Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser.
Thompson said in a statement that he wanted to know all the details about what happened on January 6, and in the days leading up to that.
He added that the commission expected witnesses to “fully comply.”
The committee has already summoned Dan Scavino, a former deputy chief of staff, and Steve Bannon, a former strategic adviser to Trump.
Bannon refused to comply with the subpoena, and was charged with contempt of Congress.
In the wake of the Capitol riot, the House of Representatives initiated proceedings to impeach Trump, but the Senate acquitted him of inciting the rebellion.
More than 670 people were arrested for breaking into the Capitol complex.
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