Appeals Court Finds House Entitled to Grand Jury Info from Mueller Report
WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court ruled that Justice Department officials must release grand jury testimony, compiled by Special Counsel Robert Mueller during his probe into Russian interference in the 2020 election, to the House of Representatives.
A divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court order that the Justice Department disclose to the House certain secret material from the Mueller investigation.
The decision came in response to several separation-of-powers lawsuits filed before the House vote to impeach President Donald Trump in December, and his acquittal in the Senate in February.
But it’s not the final word on the matter.
The Justice Department can request a hearing before the full panel of D.C. Circuit court judges, or it can appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Nevertheless, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was happy Tuesday, declaring the ruling, “an unequivocal rejection of the President’s insistence that he is above the law and his blanket refusal to cooperate with Congressional requests for information.”
“It is also another rebuke of Attorney General [WIlliam] Barr’s brazen efforts to prevent evidence of Presidential wrongdoing from being uncovered, which the Courts continue to challenge,” she said.
“This important appeals court decision upholds the House’s long-standing right to obtain grand jury information pursuant to the House’s impeachment power and makes clear that the release of grand jury information is the decision of the federal judiciary – not the Administration,” Pelosi concluded.
Writing for the majority in the 2-1 decision, U.S. Circuit Judge Judith Rogers said “it is the district court, not the Executive or the Department, that controls access to the grand jury materials issued here.
“The Department has objected to disclosure of the redacted grand jury materials, but the Department has no interest in objecting to the release of these materials outside of the general purposes and policies of grand jury secrecy, which as discussed, do not outweigh the Committee’s compelling need for disclosure,” she added.
Later, she noted, “Special Counsel Mueller prepared his report with the expectation that Congress would review it.”
U.S. Circuit Judge Thomas Griffith concurred with Rogers’ opinion. But U.S. Circuit Judge Neomi Rao, the lone Trump appointee on the panel, disagreed, maintaining Congress lacks standing to seek court orders for documents held by the executive branch.
Judge Rao also insisted the panel should have ruled the House no longer needed the materials in the wake of Trump’s impeachment and acquittal, and past justifications for exempting Congress from grand jury secrecy laws are now moot.
“A reasonable observer might wonder why we are deciding this case at this time,” Rao wrote. “After all, the Committee sought these materials preliminary to an impeachment proceeding and the Senate impeachment trial has concluded.
“Why is this controversy not moot?” she asked.
In The News
JACKSON, Miss. - The Mississippi Supreme Court on Friday overturned a voter-approved ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana, holding that the election law governing ballot referendums is out of date. The decision, which could halt other citizen-led efforts to amend the state constitution, struck down a... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Robert Collier says that during the seven years he worked as an operating room aide at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, white nurses called him and other Black employees "boy." Management ignored two large swastikas painted on a storage room wall. And for... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two senior Trump administration officials plan to defend their actions during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol when they appear before Congress, with former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller standing behind every decision he made that day. Miller will tell the... Read More
Prosecutions for "official" corruption -- a catch-all meaning bribery, graft, conflicts of interest and other violations by federal, state, local officials and law enforcement -- have been rising steadily during the first six months of FY 2021, according to a report from the Transactional Records Access... Read More
WASHINGTON - The District of Columbia government this week agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle two lawsuits by protesters during the January 2017 presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. In one of the lawsuits, six demonstrators represented by the ACLU of the District of Columbia will... Read More
NEW YORK (AP) — Federal agents raided Rudy Giuliani's Manhattan home and office Wednesday, seizing computers and cellphones in a major escalation of the Justice Department's investigation into the business dealings of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer. Giuliani, the 76-year-old former New York City mayor... Read More