A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the House of Representatives is entitled to see the grand jury testimony collected during Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into President Donald Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in a 2-to-1 decision that a lower federal district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering the Justice Department to disclose certain grand jury materials.
The majority opinion noted that the Mueller report “stopped short of making any ‘ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct,’ … in part to avoid preempting the House’s sole power of impeachment” and that the House Judiciary Committee had “established that it cannot ‘fairly and diligently’ make a final determination about the conduct described in both volumes of the Mueller Report ‘without the grand jury material referenced’ therein.”
The majority opinion was written by Judge Judith Rogers and joined by Judge Thomas Griffith. Judge Neomi Rao dissented, in part because the Senate already acquitted Trump after the House impeached him.
In the majority opinion, Rogers wrote that “second-guessing” Congress’ need for evidence would be “potentially problematic” and that the courts “cannot tell the House how to conduct its impeachment investigation or what lines of inquiry to pursue.”
But Rao, a Trump appointee, suggested that the question about needing to access the materials might be moot, writing that the majority opinion ignores the fact that the Senate impeachment trial is over.
“In the months following the Committee’s initial petition, the House passed two articles of impeachment and the Senate conducted an impeachment trial and voted to acquit President Donald J. Trump,” Rao wrote. “In light of these circumstances, I would remand to the district court to consider in the first instance whether the Committee can continue to demonstrate that its inquiry is preliminary to an impeachment proceeding and that it has a ‘particularized need’ for disclosure of the grand jury records.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) applauded the decision and said the appeals court rightly rejected the Justice Department’s arguments. “The Committee remains committed to holding the President accountable to the rule of law and preventing improper interference in law enforcement investigations,” he said in a statement.
The Justice Department will likely appeal the ruling, which could ultimately be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
You can read the full ruling below.
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