- The Washington Times - Friday, October 25, 2019

A federal judge ruled Friday House Democrats could get their hands on grand jury information underlying special counsel Robert Mueller’s report over protest from the Trump Justice Department.

Administration lawyers had pushed back against the subpoena for the information sought by the House Judiciary Committee.

Judge Beryl A. Howell, an Obama appointee, said it’s fair for the Democrats to have all relevant material to the special counsel’s probe into the Trump campaign and alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 election for their impeachment inquiry.

She said the Justice Department’s argument that existing law bars the release of grand jury material is “wrong.”

“In carrying out the weighty constitutional duty of determining whether impeachment of the President is warranted, Congress need not redo the nearly two years of effort spent on the Special Counsel’s investigation, nor risk being misled by witnesses, who may have provided information to the grand jury and the Special Counsel,” Judge Howell wrote in the 75-page order.

After Attorney General William Barr released only redacted portions of the special counsel’s nearly 500-page report, House Democrats moved to subpoena the material.

They sought documents sans redactions, exhibits from the report and any testimony related to the president’s knowledge of Russia’s attempted interference with the 2016 election, including any knowledge of crimes committed by his campaign officials.

The judge recognized generally grand jury material is not to be released, but she said there’s an exception to the rule ahead of a “judicial proceeding.” Judge Howell reasoned the potential impeachment trial in the Senate would meet that exception, granting the release.

“The need for continued secrecy is reduced, given that the special counsel’s grand jury investigation has ended, and is easily outweighed by [the House Judiciary Committee’s] compelling need for the grand jury material,” she wrote.

The Justice Department must turn over the material by Oct. 30, according to the court order.

A spokesperson for the department said they are currently reviewing the decision.

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