Politics Analysis: Supreme Court ruling is a bitter legal and personal blow to Trump
Nation's top trade groups hail SCOTUS ruling after filing emergency appeals against Biden's vaccine mandate
The nation's largest industry trade groups are calling the US Supreme Court's decision to block US President Joe Biden's vaccine or testing requirement for businesses a victory for employers. © Stefani Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images The US Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC on January 11, 2022. On Thursday, the Supreme Court froze a lower court opinion that allowed the mandate to go into effect nationwide.
The Supreme Court'sthe release of Trump White House documents to the represents a huge defeat for the ex-President's frantic effort to cover up his 2021 coup attempt.
The major blow on Wednesday -- yet another instance of the courts rebuking Donald Trump's attempts to use them for his own political gain -- will allow the committee to go even deeper inside his West Wing and understand what was going on before and during his mob's attack on the US Capitol. It will also likely be viewed by the former President as a betrayal by the court's conservative majority, which he cemented with three picks for the top bench whom he saw as a legal insurance policy as he's continually sought to bend governing institutions to avoid accountability.
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Democrats control Washington but President Joe Biden is staring at a wall of conservative power, accrued over years and wielded with a ruthlessness and zeal for rule-breaking that his own party has rarely matched. © Jose Luis Magana/AP President Joe Biden speaks to the media after meeting privately with Senate Democrats, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) The President's struggles to implement his strategy to protect US democracy and reshape the economy to help working Americans are hampered by divisions in his own party.
The decision means that 700 documents -- including schedules, speech and call logs, and three pages of handwritten notes from-- can be transferred from the National Archives to the House committee, a process that was already underway Wednesday evening.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, and Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, welcomed the court decision as a "victory for the rule of law and American democracy" and vowed to uncover all the facts about the violence of January 6 and its causes.
Trump had mounted an intense effort to avoid such scrutiny and had already lost cases in district and appellate courts as part of a broad campaign of obstruction of the committee, which has included expansive executive privilege claims by ex-aides -- even some, like his populist political guru, who were not serving White House officials at the time of the insurrection.
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The Court is barely even pretending to be engaged in legal reasoning.The first, National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, blocks a Biden administration rule requiring most workers to either get vaccinated against Covid-19 or to routinely be tested for the disease. The second, Biden v. Missouri, backs a more modest policy requiring most health care workers to get the vaccine.
Another committee member, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" that the Supreme Court ruling was a "very big deal for getting the truth out."
"We are going to get these documents and we are going to go through them and help piece this picture together," the California Democrat said.
The case came together after President Joe Biden declined to support Trump's attempt to prevent the handover of the documents, arguing that the attack on the Capitol was such an affront to the Constitution that it must be investigated. The Supreme Court did not rule on the key legal question of what happens when there is a dispute between a current and a former president on the scope of executive privilege -- a concept meant to ensure that advice to a commander in chief from subordinates can stay private. But it allowed to stand a ruling by the appellate court that found Trump had not demonstrated that his concerns for executive branch confidentiality should override "profound interests in disclosure" cited by Biden.
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Trump's lawyers had asked the Supreme Court for a full review of the case, citing important issues of privilege that will reverberate through history. But the committee made a request for an expedited review just before Christmas, citing the urgency of its investigation. The ruling closes off one avenue of Trump's legal strategy: running out the clock on the investigation before November's midterm elections and a possible GOP takeover of the House.
Net tightens around Trump West Wing
Video: Stakes are 'enormous': Legal analyst on dispute over Trump's Jan. 6 records (CNN)
The Supreme Court's ruling will play into an intense debate over efforts by former Trump aides to assert executive privilege in order to avoid testifying to the committee. Some of those claims are especially unusual and, according to many legal experts, frivolous because they cover conversations between officials and outsiders, rather than with the then-President.
Wednesday's ruling, in which only conservative Justice Clarence Thomas signaled dissent, will also offer a new mark of legitimacy to the select committee, amid claims by pro-Trump Republicans that it is an illegally constituted witch hunt despite being voted into being by the House. It will also boost the committee's race against time as it tries to complete its work before a possible new Republican majority shuts it down.
Steve Bannon's Supreme Court?
For anyone who listens to Bannon’s podcasts, the rhetoric from Gorsuch, Alito and Thomas should sound very familiar.Coldly ignoring the ongoing devastation of the COVID pandemic, that decision struck down the Biden administration's rule requiring businesses employing 100 people or more to act to stop the spread of the virus.
The net has significantly tightened around the Trump White House in recent weeks.
CNN reported earlier this month that the committee had receivedfrom multiple sources about what Trump had been doing in the White House during the insurrection. Then-Vice President Mike Pence's national security adviser Keith Kellogg, who was with Trump on that notorious day, has also testified to the panel, sources told CNN's Jamie Gangel.
On Tuesday, CNN exclusively reported that the committee had subpoenaed andfrom one of the ex-President's sons, Eric Trump, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is engaged to his brother, Donald Trump Jr. The committee is interested in investigating the level of coordination between Trump's team and organizers of the Washington rally at which the then-President told supporters who later moved to the Capitol to "fight like hell" to stop Congress from certifying Biden's election win. Committee members also want more information on the extreme legal scheme hatched by some Trump advisers designed to convince Pence to interfere in the process of counting electoral votes from the states. And the panel wants answers on why it took Trump so long to call for his supporters to leave the Capitol.
Indiana Holding Off on Abortion Law Changes, But Weighing One Making Procedure a Felony
Indiana lawmakers said this week they would likely hold off on introducing abortion-related legislation until after the Supreme Court's upcoming ruling.The bill that passed through a House committee last week would make it a felony to "coerce" a pregnant woman into having an abortion, The Associated Press reported.
But even if Wednesday's decision helps the committee paint an even more dire depiction of Trump's culpability for the riot and his behavior on January 6, it appears unlikely to meaningfully reshape the fraught politics of the insurrection. Swathes of the Republican Party, especially in the House, have done their best to whitewash Trump's role that day as he contemplates a possible comeback presidential bid in 2024. Millions of Trump supporters are persuaded by his false claims of election fraud and his argument that the real insurrection was in the November 2020 election, rather than on January 6, 2021.
A blow to Trump's perverse sense of loyalty
There is no doubt, however, that Trump will be apoplectic that his three Supreme Court nominees, Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, did not publicly dissent from denying his bid to keep his West Wing records secret. Trump has repeatedly slammed the Supreme Court for throwing out his false claims of election fraud, claiming he was a victim of a miscarriage of justice even though his delusional cases were also dismissed by multiple lower courts. Even before the election in 2020, the then-President had said it was important to quickly confirm Barrett so that she could be in place to vote on any election disputes.
Throughout his presidency, Trump appeared to equate judicial and Cabinet nominations with an act of patronage, viewing those selected as owing him a debt that would be repaid by pursuing his interests rather than honoring the rule of law and the Constitution. He frequently railed at judges who knocked back administration policies, viewing them as politically motivated if they disagreed with his view of a case. The most notorious example of this desire for almost feudal loyalty came when hefor a pledge of fealty early in his administration, before later firing him over the Russia probe.
The Supreme Court ruling was the second legal blow to Trump in as many days. In a late-night court filing on Tuesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said"misleading or fraudulent" financial statements from Trump's business empire. She is seeking to compel testimony from Trump, Trump Jr. and the ex-President's daughter Ivanka Trump as part of her civil investigation into the Trump Organization.
The former President has denied wrongdoing, and a spokesperson for the Trump Organization said in a statement that the "allegations are baseless and will be vigorously defended."
The gathering clouds around Trump would represent a grave legal and reputational risk to a normal politician, but given his talent for impunity, it's far from certain that they will slow his political aspirations.
Stephen Breyer: Supreme Court justice plans to retire .
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer plans to retire, giving President Joe Biden a chance to nominate to the bench, a well-placed source familiar with the matter told CNN. © ERIN SCHAFF/Pool/AFP/Getty Images Associate Justice Stephen Breyer sits during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 23, 2021. Breyer, 83, a consistent liberal vote on the Supreme Court with an unflappable belief in the US system of government and a pragmatic view of the law, has served nearly three decades on the bench.