Trump administration asks Supreme Court to shield secret Mueller grand jury materials
The Trump administration on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to shield redacted grand jury materials related to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe from the Democratic-led House.
The 37-page request, filed by the Justice Department, asks the justices to temporarily block the release of transcripts and other documents that Democratic lawmakers initially requested as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
The move comes after a federal appeals court in Washington ruled earlier this year that the administration could not keep under wraps certain materials stemming from Mueller’s 22-month investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee has long argued that access to the information would provide a more complete picture of Mueller’s findings related to Trump’s alleged obstruction of the special counsel’s nearly two-year probe, as well his 2016 campaign’s interactions with Russian government officials.
Mueller did not establish that the Trump campaign criminally coordinated with Moscow. The special counsel declined to say if the president obstructed justice, but Attorney General William Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded he had not.
In its court filing Thursday, the administration told the Supreme Court it would be filing a forthcoming appeal of the lower court ruling, and asked justices to shield the grand jury materials until they after they’ve had time to consider a formal petition.
The lower court’s disclosure order will take effect on May 11 if the justices take no action on the Trump administration’s request.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) argued in its filing that breaching grand jury secrecy would have a chilling effect on future witnesses.
“Absent assurances of secrecy, ‘many prospective witnesses would be hesitant to come forward voluntarily,’ and those who do come forward ‘would be less likely to testify fully and frankly,’” the DOJ wrote, citing prior Supreme Court decisions.
DOJ lawyers also argued that the lower court’s ruling was “particularly misguided” given that the initial rationale for access to the materials — the House impeachment inquiry — had already concluded by the time the March decision was handed down.
—Updated at 2:33 p.m.