DOJ pushing for rule change adding 50 years to release of grand jury records

DOJ pushing for rule change adding 50 years to release of grand jury records
© Greg Nash

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is pushing to add a 50-year delay to when courts can consider releasing federal grand jury records, apparently seeking to follow through with recommendations that were made by the Trump administration.

The recommendation was made last year in a memo from senior DOJ lawyer Jonathan Wroblewski to New York State appellate Judge Michael Garcia, who serves on the advisory committee for criminal rules, The Washington Post reports.

This potential move has been criticized as it would add a significant degree of secrecy to federal courts and investigations.

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The Post notes that what is said in grand juries is often never released to the public, but a judge may sometimes rule that other interests call for the records to be released, such as in the Watergate case that lead to former President Nixon resigning as president.

Grand jury records were also released from the investigation by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE into the Trump campaign's alleged collusion with Russia. The DOJ had fought to keep these records from being released.

Jennifer Stisa Granick, an attorney for the ACLU, has asked that the advisory committee reject this proposal, the Post reports, writing that the rule change “suggests an almost insurmountably high standard that would allow the release of only the most historically significant records decades after their immediate relevance. This increased secrecy would percolate through the entire legal system with damaging results.”

A DOJ spokesperson pointed out to the Post that the Obama administration had pushed for a similar delay, though it was for 30-years. The spokesperson also stated that this decision had nothing to do with the Mueller investigation.

The Hill has reached out to the DOJ for comment.