- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2020

House Democrats told a federal judge Tuesday that arguments by President Trump’s lawyers in the Senate impeach trial contradicts the Justice Department’s stance in its bid to keep the grand jury materials from ex-special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe under wraps.

The Justice Department has fought House Democrats’ efforts to access the grand jury material underlying Mr. Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Arguing on behalf of the Trump administration, the department has argued that impeachment is not a judicial proceeding. Under federal law, grand jury materials cannot be disclosed except for judicial proceedings.

Trump lawyer Kenneth W. Starr on Monday told senators they are “in court.”

“The Senate is a court,” Mr, Starr during the impeachment proceedings. “In fact, history teaches us that for literally decades, this body was referred to in this context as the high court of impeachment. So we are not a legislative chamber during these proceedings. We are in a tribunal. We are in court.”

Douglas Letter, an attorney for the Democrats, said Mr. Starr’s remarks undercut the Justice Department’s argument.

“That argument has not been contradicted by the president’s counsel’s statements to the Senate, which confirm that the Senate sits as a ‘court’ rather than a ‘legislative chamber’ during an impeachment trial,” Mr. Letter wrote in a court filing.

“Because DOJ’s position in this case cannot be reconciled with the president’s position with impeachment, DOJ may wish to withdraw its argument that Senate impeachment trial does as judicial proceeding.”

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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