Friday, May 20

Supreme Court hands Trump a setback in Capitol assault investigation

Donald Trump, then President of the United States, addresses his supporters on January 6, 2021 in WashingtonMANDEL NGAN

The Supreme Court cleared the way on Wednesday for the transfer of documents related to the actions of Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 to the parliamentary commission of inquiry, charged with shedding light on his role in the assault on the Capitol.

The highest court of the United States rejected, by a majority of eight judges out of nine, the attempt of the former president to maintain the confidentiality of the archives of the White House in a short judgment which does not explain his motivations.

These hundreds of pages of documents include, among other things, the lists of people who visited him or called him on January 6, 2021, as well as notes taken during these exchanges.

The Supreme Court’s decision represents a considerable victory for the “special committee” of the House of Representatives, which is engaged in a veritable judicial guerrilla war with the former president and his relatives.

The two elected to head this commission, Democrat Bennie Thompson and Republican Liz Cheney, hailed in a press release a “victory for the rule of law and for American democracy”.

They said they had already started receiving certain documents “that the former president had hoped to keep hidden”.

The members of the January 6 commission, mostly Democrats, are seeking to determine the role of the Republican billionaire in the attack of thousands of his supporters on the seat of Congress, when elected officials certified the victory of his Democratic opponent Joe Biden in the presidential one.

They are racing against time as they desperately want to release their findings before the midterm legislative elections, in less than a year, when Republicans could regain control of the House and bury their work.

Lawyers for the former president, advisers, ex-chief of staff, spokespersons…: for months, they have been increasing the subpoenas to appear in his entourage, without success so far.

Among the latest summoned is the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, a loyal supporter of Donald Trump who had supported him in his post-election crusade.

– “Not a king” –

Donald Trump, who remains central in his camp and does not rule out running for president in 2024, denounces a “political game” and tries to block the efforts of the commission.

To do this, it notably invoked a prerogative of the executive power which makes it possible to protect the confidentiality of communications between its members. For him, it even applies to former presidents.

The federal courts, however, rejected his requests, pointing out that the current executive branch had waived the use of this prerogative and authorized the transmission of its archives to Congress.

“Presidents are not kings and the plaintiff is not a president”, had notably judged the magistrate Tanya Chutkan in the decision of first instance, then confirmed on appeal.

The Supreme Court, which nevertheless has three out of nine magistrates appointed by Donald Trump, validated these judgments. Only the conservative judge Clarence Thomas let it be known that he would have given him satisfaction.

In a separate court filing, the former property mogul also saw the skies darken. On Tuesday evening, the New York State Attorney General announced that she had “uncovered evidence” of “fraudulent” tax practices within the Trump Organization.

In a document of more than a hundred pages, Letitia James accuses him, as well as two of his children, of having misvalued some of their assets to derive an “economic advantage”.

According to her, he would have underestimated goods with the taxman to pay less taxes, and would have overvalued them with banks to obtain loans.

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