A federal appeals court has ruled that Attorney General Bill Barr’s Justice Department must turn over redacted grand jury materials from the Robert Mueller report to Congress, The Hill reported Tuesday. Congressional investigators had requested to see them prior to impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
The court ruled 2–1 in favor of giving the materials to Congress, The Hill reported. Department of Justice (DOJ) spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the department is now reviewing the request to decide whether to appeal.
The lone dissenting judge, Trump appointee Neomi Rao, said that Congress doesn’t have legal standing to obtain documents held by the executive branch through court orders and that the conclusion of the impeachment trial had made the request moot.
Lawyers for the Justice Department similarly argued that because Trump’s impeachment by the House — and subsequent acquittal by the Senate — has already happened, there’s no reason Congress needs to see the materials. But NPR reported that House lawyers said Trump could be impeached again, so they still had grounds to request to see them.
An “expectation” of review
Judge Judith Rogers seemed to agree. “The committee has repeatedly stated that if the grand jury materials reveal new evidence of impeachable offenses, the committee may recommend new articles of impeachment,” Rogers wrote in her decision, according to NPR.
She also argued that the report was meant for Congress to see. “Special Counsel Mueller prepared his Report with the expectation that Congress would review it,” she said, according to The Hill.
The main reason Barr and the DOJ don’t want Congress to view the redacted portions of the report is that the grand jury testimony is highly confidential and not meant to be shared with those who don’t have high-level security clearances.
Dems applaud decision
For their part, Democrats like House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (NY) have applauded the court’s decision.
“The Justice Department has consistently provided grand jury material to the Committee in past investigations involving [p]residential misconduct — but Attorney General Barr chose to break from that long-standing practice, and DOJ radically altered its position in an attempt to withhold this information,” he said in a statement, The Hill reported.
Nadler added that his committee would still be looking to hold Trump accountable for his behaviors.
Indeed, never mind that the Mueller report didn’t show anything impeachable or prosecutable — the Democrats’ digging expedition continues.
Of course, finding some dirt on Trump before the election this November is really the only hope Dems have, especially with candidates like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden as their frontrunners.