Judiciary Committee Presses Supreme Court for Release of Mueller Grand Jury Material
WASHINGTON – Both Congress and the American public will “suffer grave and irreparable injury” if there continues to be a delay in the release of grand jury testimony from the Robert Mueller investigation, lawyers for the House Judiciary Committee said in court papers on Monday.
The new filing in the Supreme Court came in response to a Justice Department request that the high court set aside orders that Congress receive secret grand jury evidence from the special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that Congress could obtain grand jury materials in connection with last winter’s impeachment proceedings.
The committee wants to see portions of the Mueller report that had been redacted, along with grand jury transcripts and other materials that have been kept secret.
The Justice Department has fought their release ever since, telling the justices last week that the decisions by the lower courts created “serious separation-of-powers concerns.
Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily blocked the release of the materials, and the DOJ has asked the Supreme Court to take up the case and set aside the lower courts’ rulings.
The Justice Department’s position is that the D.C. Circuit relied on an exception to the general rule of grand jury secrecy that allows courts to authorize disclosure of grand jury materials in connection with a judicial proceeding.
At the time the question was before the appeals court, that proceeding was the impeachment trial of the president.
U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco has indicated the government plans to petition the Supreme Court for a review of that conclusion. The government is expected to argue an impeachment trial in the Senate is not a judicial proceeding for the purposes of an exception to grand-jury secrecy under the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure.
It also contends the Judiciary Committee has not identified any urgent need to receive the materials, particularly since the impeachment trial has ended.
Had Chief Justice Roberts not intervened, the Justice Department would have had to disclose the materials last Monday, pre-empting the government’s ability to seek further review of the case.
In Monday’s filing, Douglas Letter, counsel of record for the Judiciary Committee, said the Justice Department failed to meet the standard for a stay, and that it should therefore be denied.
Further, it said, “At bottom, DOJ has failed to demonstrate that this Court’s review would be warranted here.”
Douglas and his team of attorneys also argue that there is simply no basis for a review of the lower court rulings by the justices since there is no conflict with any decision of the high court and no split among the circuits on the matter.
“The sole question at issue likely will arise only rarely,” they wrote. “In any event, the decision … was plainly correct.”
The attorneys go on to argue the material to be disclosed does not belong to the Justice Department, and the grand jury investigation the material arose from has completed its work.
“In addition, the Committee has adopted procedures — which both the district court and the court of appeals found sufficient — to protect the confidentiality of the material. And, tellingly, DOJ makes no argument that a stay of disclosure to the Committee is necessary to protect ongoing criminal investigations,” the filing said.
If the Justice Department’s request for a prolonged stay were granted, it would not have to file a petition for the case to be heard by the Supreme Court until August 2020.
“Therefore this Court likely would not determine whether to grant or deny that petition until at least October 2020. This substantial delay will seriously endanger the Committee’s ability to complete its impeachment investigation during the current Congress — which ends not long thereafter on January 3, 2021,” the filing said.
In The News
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court will hear a challenge from the federal government and abortion providers to Texas' 6-week abortion... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court will hear a challenge from the federal government and abortion providers to Texas' 6-week abortion ban on Nov. 1, but will leave the law in place while it considers the cases, the court said on Friday. As is their custom, the... Read More
WASHINGTON -- A presidential panel charged with considering the pros and cons of altering the size and function of the... Read More
WASHINGTON -- A presidential panel charged with considering the pros and cons of altering the size and function of the U.S. Supreme Court is instead calling out the Senate confirmation process for justices. In draft documents released ahead of a public meeting on Friday, the Presidential... Read More
WASHINGTON -- On April 15, 2013, two Chechen-American brothers planted a pair of homemade pressure cooker bombs near the finish... Read More
WASHINGTON -- On April 15, 2013, two Chechen-American brothers planted a pair of homemade pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. At approximately 2:49 p.m. that Monday afternoon, the bombs detonated 14 seconds apart, killing three and injuring 264 others. At least... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Monday affirmed a lower court ruling that denied District of Columbia residents a voting... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Monday affirmed a lower court ruling that denied District of Columbia residents a voting member in the House of Representatives. As is their custom, the justices did not explain the rationale behind their summary disposition of the case, though they... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is beginning a momentous new term with a return to familiar surroundings, the mahogany... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is beginning a momentous new term with a return to familiar surroundings, the mahogany and marble courtroom that the justices abandoned more than 18 months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic. Abortion, guns and religion all are on the agenda... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The future of abortion rights is in the hands of a conservative Supreme Court that is beginning... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The future of abortion rights is in the hands of a conservative Supreme Court that is beginning a new term Monday that also includes major cases on gun rights and religion. The court's credibility with the public also could be on the line,... Read More