America First Legal, a conservative nonprofit run primarily by a board of former Trump officials, filed a brief in the Supreme Court Tuesday on behalf of the former president’s claims of executive privilege.
In December, former President Donald Trump petitioned the high court to keep White House records concealed from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Select Committee on Jan. 6. The partisan probe has spent months seeking about 700 pages of documents housed by the National Archives to investigate the administration and connect the Trump White House with the riot at the Capitol in January last year. Despite Trump’s assertion of executive privilege, however, President Joe Biden has ordered the Archives to release the records anyway, and a lower court refused to block the decision.
“The simple fact of the matter is that we have a political faction, a unified political faction, acting in concert to eviscerate executive privilege,” Reed Rubinstein, senior counselor for America First Legal, told The Federalist. “What’s going to happen if executive privilege is eroded in the way that it might be soon, is that you won’t be able to have candid conversations.”
The group’s legal brief filed in support of the former Republican president makes a four-pillar case in favor of Trump’s request that Biden respect executive privilege. America First Legal argues the lower court “erroneously ceded judicial authority” to Democrats in Congress and the White House and “misconstrued the Presidential Records Act” which grants Trump the privacy he’s demanded.
The brief also takes aim at the Jan. 6 Committee for being established in violation of House rules after Speaker Pelosi barred Republican appointments from the panel.
“Accordingly, [its] agreements, demands, and subpoenas lack legal force or effect,” the group wrote.
Finally, America First Legal’s brief calls on the Supreme Court to “rein in” the Jan. 6 Committee, citing Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., placing priority on criminal referrals as opposed to using the probe in pursuit of any legislative purpose.
Last month, the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling to overturn Trump’s attempt to invoke executive privilege because of the significance of Jan. 6.
“Access to this subset of presidential communication records is necessary to address a matter of great constitutional moment for the Republic,” wrote Judge Patricia Millett, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.
Trump’s former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who serves on the board of America First Legal and has filed his own lawsuit against the Jan. 6 Committee itself, also appealed to the Supreme Court on Trump’s behalf to respect executive privilege.