Congressional Access to Grand Jury Information

Mueller Grand Jury Case

Major Issue:  Whether a House committee, as part of an impeachment inquiry, may obtain a court order granting it access to grand jury materials from the Mueller investigation.

Case Status:  Awaiting appellate opinion in D.C. Circuit.

Case Description:  On July 26, 2019, the House Judiciary Committee filed a petition with the D.C. federal district court seeking a court order under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) to obtain grand jury material from the investigation conducted by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. 

The request was for all redacted information from the two-volume Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election (“Mueller Report”); any underlying transcripts or exhibits referenced in those redacted portions; and underlying grand jury testimony transcripts and exhibits that relate directly to:

“(A) President Trump’s knowledge of efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election;

(B) President Trump’s knowledge of any direct or indirect links or contacts between individuals associated with his Presidential campaign and Russia, including with respect to Russia’s election interference efforts;

(C) President Trump’s knowledge of any potential criminal acts by him or any members of his administration, his campaign, his personal associates, or anyone associated with his administration or campaign; or

(D) actions taken by former White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II during the campaign, the transition, or McGahn’s period of service as White House Counsel.”

The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) refused to provide the information in response to a House subpoena. 

Procedural Posture:  D.C. District Court Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell was assigned to Case No. 19-gj-48.  On Oct. 25, 2019, the district court granted the House application and ordered DOJ to disclose the Mueller grand jury materials to the House Judiciary Committee.  DOJ appealed the decision to the D.C. Circuit which granted a temporary stay on the district court’s order.  On Nov. 18, 2019, the appeals court extended the stay pending review of the case.  On Jan. 3, 2020, a 3-judge appellate panel held oral argument but has yet to issue an opinion.

On July 26, 2019, the House Judiciary Committee filed an application with the D.C. federal district court seeking a court order under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) to obtain grand jury materials from the Mueller investigation.  On Oct. 25, 2019, Judge Howell granted the House application and ordered DOJ to produce the grand jury materials.  In re Application of the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, for an Order Authorizing the Release of Certain Grand Jury Materials, No. 19-gj-48 (BAH), 2019 WL 5485221 (D.D.C. Oct. 25, 2019).  DOJ requested a stay pending appeal of the decision; the district court denied the stay.  In re Application of Comm. on Judiciary U.S. House of Representatives for an Order Authorizing Release of Certain Grand Jury Materials, No. 19-gj-48 (BAH), 2019 WL 5608827 (D.D.C. Oct. 29, 2019).

DOJ filed an appeal with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

On Oct. 27, 2019, DOJ filed an appeal of the district court order to produce Mueller grand jury materials to Congress.  A D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals 3-judge panel, with Judges Millett, Pillard, and Wilkins, was assigned to Case No. 19-5288.  On Oct. 29, 2019, the panel granted a temporary stay of the district court’s order.  On Nov. 18, 2019, a new 3-judge panel, with Judges Griffith, Rao, and Rogers, heard oral argument on whether to extend the stay pending review of the case.  Later that day, the panel extended the stay pending appeal.  On Jan. 3, 2020, the panel heard oral argument on the merits of the case, but has yet to issue an opinion.

No proceedings to date.

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