Trump’s DOJ Appeals Court Order to Release Mueller Records

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Justice Department is appealing a Friday court ruling compelling it to turn over grand-jury materials from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

The government also asked to have the Oct. 30 deadline to release the documents put on hold during the appeal.

While last week’s ruling was in a case filed months before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, Washington Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell pointedly said that the House Judiciary Committee needed the material to consider impeachment. The Justice Department had argued to Howell that since Pelosi didn’t put the matter to a vote, the inquiry isn’t legitimate.

Pelosi’s announcement followed news of a whistleblower complaint that Trump was improperly pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over his work for a Ukrainian energy company. The Justice Department argued in documents filed Monday that a delay in turning over the materials wouldn’t impact the impeachment inquiry.

Although the house committee claims “it needs the information promptly because it continues to investigate matters connected to the Mueller report, there appears little dispute that, for now, that investigation is secondary,” the Justice Department said Monday.

House Democrats defended their procedural choices, arguing that they were engaged in an impeachment inquiry, something that qualified as a “judicial proceeding” allowing the court to unlock the Mueller grand jury records. Howell, in her Friday ruling, agreed.

Citing the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent, Howell said “impeachment trials are judicial in nature and constitute judicial proceedings.” She likened the ongoing inquiry to a grand jury proceeding and said it required no formal resolution authorizing it.

The appellate case is In Re Application of the Committee v. DoJ, 19-5288, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit (Washington).

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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