DOJ asks Supreme Court to temporarily block release of Mueller grand jury material
The Department of Justice filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court Thursday asking them to temporarily block the enforcement of an order requiring the release of secret grand jury materials from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to the House Judiciary Committee by May 11.
House Democrats have been seeking the redacted portions of Mueller’s report and its underlying evidence from grand jury proceedings, claiming they needed it for an ongoing impeachment investigation of President Trump — even after he was acquitted by the Senate regarding the Ukraine controversy. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in their favor in March, but the Justice Department wants their order put on hold as they challenge that decision before the Supreme Court.
“Absent a stay of the court’s mandate, the government will have to disclose those materials on May 11, 2020, which would irrevocably lift their secrecy and possible frustrate the government’s ability to seek further review,” the DOJ wrote in their filing, explaining the necessity for the Supreme Court to step in.
The DOJ noted that the House Judiciary Committee has agreed to at least allow a stay of seven days for the court to consider the request, since they plan on filing a brief of their own in opposition.
The Justice Department argues that the House’s impeachment investigation does not qualify as a “judicial proceeding,” which is one type of situation where the release of grand jury materials is permitted.
In their filing, they point out a separation of powers issue that arises under this classification, because in the case of a judicial proceeding, the party requesting grand jury materials must still illustrate a “particularized need” for them. The DOJ claims that having a court evaluate the House’s needs related to impeachment would be “in considerable tension with the House’s ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ and the Senate’s ‘sole Power to try all Impeachments,'” as laid out in the Constitution.
Chief Justice John Roberts could theoretically rule on the DOJ’s emergency request on his own, but it is likely he will have the entire Supreme Court weigh in.
Fox News’ Shannon Bream and Bill Mears contributed to this report.