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) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's investigation because the impeachment articles against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes 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 ManafortStone judge under pressure over calls for new trial President Trump's assault on checks and balances: Five acts in four weeks Free Roger Stone 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.