By order of United States District Judge Beryl Howell, the Department of Justice must turn over certain grand jury materials to the House Judiciary Committee by the end of October. These materials are related to the Special Counsel investigation on whether the campaign that elected United States President Donald Trump sought the collaboration of Russian operatives linked to the Kremlin, and they may ultimately be made part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
According to a report published by the American Bar Association, Judge Howell based her decision on matters related to the Constitution, particularly those related to the information that Congress is entitled to handle when carrying out investigations that may result in a presidential impeachment. Moreover, Judge Howell did not see the need for Congress to conduct investigations that have already been completed, and she was not impressed with the Justice Department’s filing in opposition to the release.
While the report presented to Congress by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller was alarming on its own, legal analysts believe that the grand jury reports could be even more damning for President Trump. This new court order states that the document must be turned over without redactions, which the Justice Department will very likely object to. At one point, Judge Howell described a filing presented by the White House as spurious and misguided.
The House Judiciary Committee already has plenty of legal firepower to impeach Trump, but this recent decision provides even more powerful ammunition. A key argument presented by Congress is that grand jury records are routinely used in judicial proceedings, and this is what impeachment can be classified under since the Supreme Court will ultimately be involved if the case moves from the House to the Senate. The grand jury was impaneled in 2017 and the report was delivered nearly two years later.
According to reuters.com, the Special Counsel report contains findings that can be interpreted as impeachable offenses, but the Justice Department has declined to treat them as such. Testifying before Congress, the former Special Counsel reminded lawmakers that his report could be used as a roadmap towards impeachment; however, the report has yet to be introduced in the ongoing inquiry. Thus far, Members of Congress have been mostly interested in the alleged conspiracy to withhold providing military assistance to Ukraine, a country that is engaged in a proxy war against Russia, unless one of Trump’s political opponents was investigated.