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 Supreme Court decision.

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:  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 March 10, 2020, in a 2-1 decision, an appeals court panel affirmed the district court ruling and ordered DOJ to produce to Congress the Mueller grand jury materials.  On April 24, 2020, DOJ requested a stay of document production pending appeal to the Supreme Court.  The D.C. Circuit denied the request, but gave DOJ ten days to petition the Supreme Court.  On May 20, 2020, the Supreme Court granted a stay until a decision was made on the certiorari petition.  The Supreme Court granted the petition on July 2, 2020, and scheduled oral argument for Dec. 2, 2020, but on Nov. 17, 2020, the House requested a delay.

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.  D.C. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell was assigned to Case No. 19-gj-48.  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, 414 F. Supp. 3d 129 (D.D.C. 2019).  DOJ requested a stay pending appeal of the decision; the district court denied the stay on Oct. 29, 2020.  In re Application of Comm. on Judiciary U.S. House of Representatives for an Order Authorizing Release of Certain Grand Jury Materials, 414 F. Supp. 3d 1 (D.D.C. 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 extended the stay pending review of the case.  On Jan. 3, 2020, the panel heard oral argument on the merits of the case.  On March 10, 2020, in a 2-1 decision, the D.C. Circuit panel affirmed the district court and ordered DOJ to produce to Congress the Mueller grand jury materials.  Judge Rogers wrote the main opinion, Judge Griffith wrote a concurrence, and Judge Rao wrote the dissent.  DOJ requested a stay of document production pending appeal to the Supreme Court.  The D.C. Circuit denied the stay, but gave DOJ ten days to petition the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari before the documents would have to be produced.

 On July 2, 2020, the Supreme Court grant certiorari and stayed production of the grand jury materials pending appeal.  The case, Department of Justice v. Comm. on the Judiciary, United States House of Representatives, was assigned No. 19-1328.  The Supreme Court scheduled oral argument on December 2, 2020, but on November 17, the House requested a delay.
 
Scroll to Top