The Supreme Court on Wednesday has agreed to temporarily shield grand jury documents from former special counsel Robert Muellers Russia investigation from being disclosed to Congress.
The top court granted the Trump administrations emergency request for a temporary stay of a lower courts order that gives the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee access to grand jury information redacted from Muellers 448-page report, including transcripts or exhibits referenced in the redactions. The temporary stay is granted pending the filing and consideration of an appeal (pdf).
The court has given the Trump administration until 5 p.m. June 1 to file the appeal. It did not give reasons for its decision.
Chief Justice John Roberts had previously granted an administrative stay to temporarily block the lower courts order from going into effect while the Supreme Court considers the Trump administrations emergency request.
In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled 2-1 to uphold a district courts decision ordering the Justice Department (DOJ) to turn over grand jury material referenced in or underlying Muellers report. The House was seeking the documents as part of its ongoing investigations into President Donald Trump in an attempt to find impeachable offenses against him.
Although the Senate acquitted Trump in his impeachment trial in February, House lawyers had previously said that the lawmakers will continue their impeachment probe against the president regardless of the outcome in the Senate.
While arguing for the temporary stay, Solicitor General Noel Francisco said that letting the lower courts order take effect, which was scheduled for May 11, would “irrevocably lift their secrecy and possibly frustrate the governments ability to seek further review.”
The main question in the present case is whether an impeachment trial is a judicial proceeding. Grand jury materials are usually guarded with great secrecy and are only disclosed under exceptional circumstances. One of the exceptions that allow for disclosure is when the documents are being sought in connection to a judicial proceeding.
The lower courts had accepted that the impeachment trial qualifies under the exception, while Francisco argued in his brief that it does not.
“The ordinary meaning of judicial proceeding is a proceeding before a court—not an impeachment trial before elected legislators,” he wrote. “The court of appeals interpretation defies that ordinary meaning, and creates needless contradictions with the other instances of judicial proceeding in Rule 6(e)(3) itself.”
The House Judiciary Committee filed a response to the application on Monday, arguing that the administration does not meet the standard for a stay and that the DOJ had failed to demonstrate why the courts review should be warranted.
House lawyers told the court that the committee had put in place procedRead More From Source