The Supreme Court has delayed House Democrats’ attempts to dig through secret grand jury testimony from the Robert Mueller investigation until at least June 1.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), asked the court on Monday to release sealed evidence referenced in the Mueller report. The Trump administration had requested that the court issue a stay against a lower court ruling directing the Department of Justice to release secret grand jury testimonies.
The Supreme Court sided against House Democrats on Wednesday, issuing a temporary stay until June 1 to give the Trump administration time to appeal the lower court’s decision. If the Trump administration appeals and the Supreme Court extends the stay until arguments can be heard, Democrats’ chances of securing the testimony by court order before the election are close to nil, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
The House is requesting the grand jury testimony to continue its impeachment investigation into President Trump. Democrats’ first attempt at removing the president fell flat in January after the Senate acquitted Trump in almost entirely party-line vote.
“The Committee and the public continue to suffer grave and irreparable injury each additional day the district court’s order is prevented from going into effect: the Committee is being deprived of the information it needs to exercise its weighty constitutional responsibility,” the Democrat-led Judiciary committee’s Monday filing said.
“The Committee’s impeachment investigation related to obstruction of justice pertaining to the Russia investigation is ongoing. As the Committee has explained, it ‘has continued and will continue those investigations consistent with its own prior statements respecting their importance and purposes,’” the filing said.
Grand jury materials typically remain sealed during and after an investigation. The House is arguing that the testimonies should be released under an exemption that allows for the materials’ use in a court proceeding. The question is whether an impeachment trial qualifies as a court proceeding under the rules.
The House impeached Trump in December on charges of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power related to a phone call he had with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on July 25, 2019. Trump asked Zelensky to look into allegations of misconduct against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Biden was in charge of the Obama administration’s foreign policy with Ukraine when he pushed the Ukrainian government to fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in March 2016. At the time, Shokin was reportedly looking into the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, for which Biden’s son was then a highly paid board member.
Audio released earlier this week has raised more questions about Biden’s motives for pushing for Shokin’s ouster. In an unconfirmed recording released on Tuesday, Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko purportedly discuss Shokin’s ouster, and Poroshenko admits that the Ukrainian government does not have “any information about him doing something wrong.” Shokin resigned from his position at Poroshenko’s request, however.
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