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Supreme Court blocks for now release of Mueller grand jury materials to House

David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted an emergency appeal from President Donald Trump's lawyers and blocked House Democrats -- for now -- from examining grand jury materials from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The justices said they would consider a full appeal petition from the Justice Department, which will likely delay a decision about whether to hear the case until at least the end of June.

The court's action means more delay for the House Judiciary Committee, which first sought to see the evidence and documents after Mueller wrapped up his probe last year and before they began an impeachment.

Trump's lawyers argued the grand jury materials must be kept secret, and they refused to turn over the files.

The House Democrats won before a federal judge in October and before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in March.

Judges for the D.C. Circuit said grand jury materials were "court records," not the property of the Justice Department, and they said it had been long understood that the House could obtain grand jury files as a part of an impeachment inquiry.

In the most famous example, the judge presiding over the Watergate grand jury turned over its report to the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 as it prepared articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon.

 

But Solicitor General Noel Francisco filed an appeal two weeks ago. He urged the high court to intervene to block the release and review the ruling of the D.C. Circuit.

The court granted that request in the case of Department of Justice vs. House Judiciary Committee and said the government should file an appeal petition by June 1.

It takes only four votes to grant an appeal, and if the court agrees to hear the case, a decision will not come for another year.

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