DOJ argues Democrats no longer need Mueller documents after impeachment vote

DOJ argues Democrats no longer need Mueller documents after impeachment vote
© Greg Nash

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday told a federal court that House Democrats no longer have a need for grand jury materials from former 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's investigation because the impeachment articles against President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE didn't cover matters from the Russia probe.

The Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee has long argued for access to secret materials from Mueller’s investigation, claiming Trump’s alleged obstruction of the special counsel probe was relevant to Democrats’ impeachment efforts.

But lawyers for the DOJ today said that case was undermined by House Democrats’ decision last week to vote to impeach Trump on two articles that looked narrowly at Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and obstruction of Congress.  

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“Neither article of impeachment adopted by the House, however, alleges high crimes or misdemeanors stemming from the events described in the Mueller Report,” they told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. “Accordingly, nothing appears to remain of the Committee’s alleged need for the grand-jury materials in the Mueller Report.” 

The filing is the latest back and forth in a fight over redacted materials from Mueller's investigation. Lawyers for the Democratic House Judiciary Committee insist the grand jury documents are still relevant to their investigation.

In a filing to the D.C. Circuit court last Monday — two days before the House impeachment vote — lawyers for the Democrats told the appellate court that the secret materials were needed for Trump’s impeachment inquiry and likely Senate trial. Lawyers for the committee are expected to submit another filing today to update a panel of judges on why the materials are still urgently needed. 

In October, Democrats scored a win when a federal district court judge said the Justice Department should hand over the redacted materials from Mueller's probe. D.C. District Court Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama appointee, said House Democrats had provided a legitimate reason for seeking the documents, citing their impeachment inquiry into Trump. 

The DOJ had argued that the impeachment inquiry was not legitimate because it had not been authorized in a vote by the full House, an argument Howell rejected. The DOJ appealed that ruling to the circuit court.

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During oral arguments before a panel of D.C. Circuit Court judges last month, a lawyer for the House Judiciary Committee said Democrats were looking into whether Trump misled Mueller.

House attorney Douglas Letter highlighted grand jury testimony of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDOJ investigating one-time Trump campaign adviser over alleged ties to Qatar: report Foreign lobbyists donated over M during 2020 election: report Former Mueller prosecutor representing Donoghue in congressional probes: report MORE, saying Manafort’s statements could shed light on whether written responses Trump provided to the special counsel were untruthful.

The former special counsel’s 448-page report contains redacted passages detailing information gleaned during grand jury proceedings.