The US Supreme Court on Friday dropped a verbal argument employed in a legal battle of a House committee to obtain documents from President Donald Trump’s special counsel Robert Muller.
The court dropped this argument, requesting attorneys for the House of Representatives, originally scheduled for December 2 from the calendar. The case involves a lawsuit brought by the House Judiciary Committee, seeking to obtain documents related to Trump compiled by Muller’s special counsel team.
In a letter to the court, House lawyers said the documents could no longer be needed – which the committee had originally sought to investigate impeachment – given Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
“A new Congress will be convened in the first week of January 2021, and the President-Elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021. Once those incidents occur, the newly formed committee will have to determine whether it wants to continue the application. The grand jury material led to the case, ”his letter said.
The Department of Justice said it was willing to move forward with this argument because the court removed the case from the December calendar.
When Muller’s work ended in March 2019, the Justice Department sent a version of its final report to Congress, but it was republished, or blacked out, with reference to the information gathered by the Muller Grand Jury. The House Judicial Committee asked a federal judge for an order directing the Justice Department to hand over an unproven copy of the report, along with some documents and interviews specified in the blacked-out items.
The proceedings of a federal grand jury are clandestine, which include findings and any material during its investigation. But there are some exceptions. The courts are allowed to authorize disclosure when they find that the material will be used “initially or with respect to judicial justice.” The two lower courts ruled that the Judiciary Committee was covered by the exception that caused the House impeachment to be preliminary to a Senate trial, which is a judicial proceeding.
The Department of Justice maintained the exception to the grand jury confidentiality rules, stating, “The normal meaning of a judicial proceeding is a proceeding before a court, not a trial of impeachment before elected legislators.” But the House said that this is covered by the exception, noting that the Constitution states that the Senate has the sole power to “try” all impeachments, require the Chief Justice to preside, and in cases of impeachment A “decision” refers to.
For now, the Supreme Court case is alive, but will likely be dropped early next year.