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Appeals court rejects Trump bid to withhold records on Capitol attack

Security fencing is seen near the US Capitol ahead of an expected rally Saturday in support of the January 6 Capitol attack defendants in Washington, US September 17, 2021. (Reuters photo)

A US appeals court has rejected an effort by former president Donald Trump to block a House select committee from getting a tranche of White House records for its probe of the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

Trump had argued that the records held by the National Archives are protected by executive privilege, the legal doctrine that protects White House documents from being made public.

The select committee objected to Trump’s claims, and President Joe Biden waived privilege over the disputed records.

On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit wrote that Biden “and the Legislative Branch have shown a national interest in and pressing need for the prompt disclosure of these documents.”

"Trump has provided no basis for this court to override President Biden's judgment and the agreement and accommodations worked out between the Political Branches over these documents,” the panel said in its 68-page opinion.

In August, the House select committee requested the records, which include secret telephone records, visitor logs and other White House documents. The House said it needs the records so it can learn more about Trump's efforts in order for Congress to make laws that could protect future elections.

During the Jan. 6 attack, hundreds of Trump’s supporters, many of whom subscribed to his false claim that the 2020 election was rigged, stormed the Capitol and temporarily stopped Congress from confirming Biden’s victory.

“The events of January 6th exposed the fragility of those democratic institutions and traditions that we had perhaps come to take for granted,” the panel said.

Now, Trump has 14 days to file an emergency request to the Supreme Court to appeal the ruling.

His spokeswoman Liz Harrington, following the ruling, said that "regardless of today's decision by the appeals court, this case was always destined for the Supreme Court."

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