A federal judge ruled Friday that the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee can have access to redacted grand jury material from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, gave the Justice Department until Oct. 30 to turn over the redacted portions of the grand jury material sought by the committee.
The Trump administration will likely appeal this ruling — including a request for a stay — to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
The ruling is a key win for Democrats as the House Judiciary Committee begins to tackle articles of impeachment against President Trump.
Mueller found no evidence that Trump conspired with Russia in the 2016 election, but did not come to a finding on whether the president obstructed justice.
Even though the Mueller probe is separate from what the House Intelligence Committee is separately probing in relation to the president’s actions toward Ukraine, potential information in the Mueller grand jury documents could also help the committee craft articles of impeachment – specifically an article dealing with obstruction of Congress.
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Democrats had requested that the department provide the material, which was redacted from Mueller’s report, as part of their ongoing impeachment inquiry against Trump.
Justice Department lawyers argued at a hearing earlier this month that House Democrats already had sufficient evidence from Mueller’s investigation, including copies of summaries of FBI witness interviews.
The material covered by Howell’s order includes redacted grand jury material mentioned in Mueller’s report, which is the only piece of the document that Democrats have yet to see.
In a 75-page ruling accompanying the order, Howell slashed through many of the administration’s arguments for withholding materials from Congress. While the Justice Department said it couldn’t provide grand jury material under existing law, “DOJ is wrong,” she wrote. And while the White House and its Republican allies argued impeachment is illegitimate without a formal vote, she later added, “A House resolution has never, in fact, been required.”
The judge also rejected the Justice Department’s argument that impeachment isn’t a “judicial proceeding” under the law, for which the information could be disclosed.
Justice Department lawyers argued against providing the materials at a hearing earlier this month. They said House Democrats already had sufficient evidence from Mueller’s investigation, including copies of summaries of FBI witness interviews.
Fox News’ Bill Mears, Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
SOURCE : https://www.foxnews.com/politics/federal-judge-rules-congressional-democrats-can-have-access-to-mueller-grand-jury-material