A federal judge ruled Friday that the US Department of Justice must provide the House Judiciary Committee with access to grand jury materials stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.
House Democrats contend that grand jury information is necessary in deciding whether to bring articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump in connection with the Russia investigation.
House Republicans, led by Representative Doug Collins, assert that the Judiciary Committee is not entitled to grand jury testimony, as the full chamber has not yet voted on a formal impeachment inquiry. Chiefly, Representative Collins relies on historical precedent, arguing that previous Presidential impeachment inquiries initiated with a full house vote. Federal Judge Beryl Howell rejected this argument, stating:
Even if this statement were accurate, which it is not, the manner in which the House has chosen to conduct impeachment inquiries encompasses more than past Presidents and no sound legal or constitutional reason has been presented to distinguish the House’s exercise of impeachment authority for a President from the exercise of such authority more generally.
There is speculation that the Trump administration will appeal the ruling. Trump’s attorneys have publicly attacked the impeachment inquiry as “baseless” and “unconstitutional.” Trump has stated in interviews that he will not cooperate with congressional subpoenas, signaling an intent to frustrate Democratic efforts to conduct the inquiry. Howell factored this dynamic into the decision, noting, “The White House’s stated policy of non-cooperation with the impeachment inquiry weighs heavily in favor of disclosure.”
The House Judiciary Committee is set to receive the grand jury materials by Wednesday.