January 7, 2022

Government Accountability Project Submits Amici Curiae Brief to
Supreme Court in Trump v. Thompson Case

President Trump’s request to block a release of records related to January 6 threatens the foundations of our government and laws.

WASHINGTON – Government Accountability Project; along with Government Information Watch, National Security Counselors, Louis Fisher, Heidi Kitrosser, Mark J. Rozell, Jonathan Shaub, and Mitchel A. Sollenberger; has submitted a friend of the court brief to the Supreme Court in the Trump v. Thompson case in support of the United States Congress. This brief argues that there is no legal basis for President Trump to request a block of records related to the January 6 attack.

This conclusion is held up by three arguments made throughout the brief:

  1. President Trump’s claim does not fit within the Youngstown scheme, a leading judicial precedent case that evaluates a president’s ability to control information following the conclusion of an administration.
  2. President Trump’s claim is incompatible with the Presidential Records Act, which was amended by Congress in 2014 to give the current president power over presidential records.
  3. President Trump lacks constitutional authority to assert constitutional privilege. While Trump’s case is built on the Nixon v. GSA Supreme Court case, this brief argues how that case does not support its claims.

As our nation’s democracy continues to face turmoil one year after the January 6 attacks, it is crucial to hold those responsible to account. The only way to enforce accountability is through truth. Giving a former president the power that Trump requests will not only withhold information surrounding January 6, but also set a precedent for “shadow presidents” that would fundamentally alter our Constitution’s principles.

Government Accountability Project’s Executive Director and CEO Louis Clark commented: 

“A former president has asserted that he should be allowed to retain power over presidential documents that do not belong to him. They belong to the people of this nation and their use, distribution and storage are now governed by the rule of law as established by the Constitution and acts of Congress. One federal judge and three unanimous federal appeals judges have written lengthy and eloquent decisions upholding that rule of law. We hope our amicus brief will add additional legal considerations for the US Supreme Court to weigh as it decides this critically important matter for the healthy functioning of our democracy.”

National Security Counselors’ Executive Director Kel McClanahan who was the leading author of our brief commented: 

It’s frustrating that the district and circuit courts and the lawyers for Congress themselves have shied away from the argument that, quite simply, Nixon v. GSA just doesn’t mean what the Trump lawyers assert. All the evidence points to the conclusion that the Supreme Court 45 years ago threw a bone to the idea that some former President sometime and under some circumstance might be able to make a case for denying the release of documents, but the justices presented no idea what that would look like. The fact of the matter is, there is no room in Article II for a former President to have any authority over a sitting President, and that’s the way it has to be for the Presidency to function.

This case is the point of the spear for the Trump team. If the Supreme Court doesn’t shut this down now, these arguments are going to be remade every time someone wants anything from anyone who was in the Trump White House. Documents, testimony, you name it—this isn’t going away until the Court makes it go away.”


Contact: Andrew Harman, Communications Director
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (202) 926-3304

Government Accountability Project

Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.