Constitutional Law

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The chief federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled Friday that the House Judiciary Committee is entitled to see grand jury materials related to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled that the Department of Justice must turn over the materials by Oct. 30.

Publications covering Howell’s ruling include Law.com, Politico, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Howell said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announcedan official impeachment inquiry,” and Congress is entitled to the information to carry out its constitutional duty.

“Congress need not redo the nearly two years of effort spent on the special counsel’s investigation,” Howell said in her opinion.

Howell said the House committee was entitled to the materials under a grand jury exception for disclosure “preliminarily to or in connection with a judicial proceeding.”

The standard is satisfied, Howell said, because an impeachment trial before the Senate is a judicial proceeding, and the House impeachment inquiry is preliminary to such a proceeding.

Howell said historical practice and precedent by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit both support turning over the materials.

There is no need for a formal impeachment resolution approved by the House, Howell said.

Precedent cited in support of a contrary finding “is cherry-picked and incomplete, and more significantly, this test has no textual support in the U.S. Constitution,” Howell said. In addition, neither House rules nor grand jury secrecy rules support the need for a formal resolution, she said.

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