National Security

Federal judge denies news organizations’ request to unseal Trump Jan. 6 grand jury filings

Insurrectionists loyal to then-President Trump, storm the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021
AP Photo/John Minchillo, File
FILE – Insurrectionists loyal to then-President Trump storm the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

A federal judge on Thursday rejected a request from Politico and The New York Times to unseal court filings from a grand jury investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Politico and The New York Times, along with their respective reporters, Kyle Cheney and Charlie Savage, made the unusual request that the court release filings related to former President Trump’s use of executive privilege in the investigation.

The two news organizations argued that the “historic significance” of the investigation and existing public reporting on the grand jury’s proceedings justified releasing such materials.

Chief District Judge Beryl Howell rejected these arguments in Thursday’s filing, finding that historical significance alone is not sufficient to justify the disclosure of grand jury proceedings and that the cited reports did not render “continued secrecy unnecessary.” 

Howell noted that the government and presumed grand jury witnesses have not confirmed or declined to comment on the existing reports, which largely attribute their information to “people familiar with” the matters.

“Since there has been no equivalent disclosure to the government or a grand jury witness ‘proclaim[ing] from the rooftops’ about sealed grand jury information … the cited news reporting is insufficient to unseal any grand jury material,” Howell said in the filing.

The decision comes as reports continue to emerge about special counsel Jack Smith’s frequent subpoenas in his Jan. 6 investigation, which Howell noted “anyone apprised of how criminal investigations progress could surmise” is proceeding before the grand jury in question.

Smith was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in November to oversee the Justice Department’s probes related to Trump, including his role in the Jan. 6 riot and his handling of classified materials.

Tags Beryl Howell Jack Smith Merrick Garland

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