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The Supreme Court denies Trump's bid to block release of records to Jan. 6 panel

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on Jan. 15 in Florence, Ariz.
Mario Tama
Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on Jan. 15 in Florence, Ariz.

Updated January 19, 2022 at 10:11 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a blow to former President Donald Trump, rejecting his request to block release of White House records being sought by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The court's order paves the way for the release of records from the National Archives. The records could shed light on the events that led to the riot by Trump supporters protesting the results of the 2020 presidential election, which was won by Democrat Joe Biden.

In its decision Wednesday, the Supreme Court noted that the question of whether a former president can claim executive privilege need not be answered in this case, because a lower court had already decided.

"Because the Court of Appeals concluded that President Trump's claims would have failed even if he were the incumbent, his status as a former President necessarily made no difference to the court's decision," the court said in its order.

Conservative-leaning Justice Clarence Thomas was the lone public dissenter in the order.

"The Supreme Court's action tonight is a victory for the rule of law and American democracy," House panel Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said in a statement. "The Select Committee has already begun to receive records that the former President had hoped to keep hidden and we look forward to additional productions regarding this important information."

Added Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.: "Reviewing documents that former President Trump sought to hide from the American people is essential to understanding the events leading up to and during the deadly insurrection and its aftermath, and to ensuring it never happens again."

The decision Wednesday comes as the Democratic-led committee is moving closer into Trump's inner circle.

The panel is now pursuing phone records for Trump's son Eric and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is engaged to Donald Trump Jr.

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NPR's Washington Desk