The Justice Department on Monday asked a federal judge to put on hold an order requiring the disclosure of grand jury information redacted from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to the House Judiciary Committee while it files an appeal.
Last week, DC District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell ruled that the documents must be turned over by Wednesday, and in her opinion legally endorse the House impeachment inquiry.
“Once the information is disclosed, it cannot be recalled, and the confidentiality of the grand jury information will be lost for all time,” Justice Department lawyers wrote, especially if the Judiciary Committee decides to make the materials public. The Justice department says it is filing an appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The Justice Department added that it believes, based on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s remarks, that what Mueller investigated “is not the current focus of impeachment activity.”
“The speaker has announced that the House impeachment inquiry will focus narrowly on the whistleblower complaint and issues surrounding Ukraine,” the filing states.
Lawyers for the House have told the court that’s not true, and emphasized that members may consider multiple grounds for impeaching the President, including whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice – a key question Mueller investigated. The House has emphasized that a large part of its impeachment inquiry is about how the President asked the Ukrainian President for political help in a July 25 phone call.
Howell’s decision to share the grand jury details with the House on Friday was significant because it underlined the legal validity of the impeachment effort, which the Trump administration has questioned as it attempts to stonewall the House probe.