The Justice Department told a judge Friday that the House Judiciary Committee shouldn’t be granted access to unreleased material from the former special counsel’s Russia investigation as it weighs whether to move forward with impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
The committee had filed a petition in federal court for lawmakers to obtain the grand jury material to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment against Trump for his knowledge of any potential “criminal acts” by him or his associates related to conspiring with Russia.
The department argued lawmakers have “come nowhere close to demonstrating a particularized need” for the information.
“What may come of this investigation — if anything — remains unknown and unpredictable,” the court filing read.
“What may come of this investigation — if anything — remains unknown and unpredictable.”
A redacted version of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s 448-page report was released to the public in April. A less-redacted version, where only grand jury information was blacked out, was then given to certain lawmakers, including the committee’s chairman and ranking member.
The committee asserted its need of the full, unredacted version of Mueller’s report as well as transcripts of the grand jury testimony, and filed a lawsuit under Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., in July. The Justice Department argued the blacked-out information in the report comprised a “tiny percentage of the document,” and that the committee hadn’t provided a sufficient explanation as to how the material would help their investigation of Trump.
The DOJ also argued an impeachment proceeding carried out in Congress wouldn’t be considered a “judicial proceeding” under law, in which case the information could have been disclosed.
The department went on to argue that several investigations stemming from Mueller’s probe remained open, thus there is a “continuing need for secrecy” about grand jury proceedings.
It’s not clear what new information the committee is seeking in the grand jury transcripts. Many witnesses connected to the Trump administration appeared for voluntary questioning before Mueller’s team rather than the grand jury.
The House Judiciary Committee approved ground rules for impeachment hearings Thursday, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi maintained her cautious approach.
“If we have to go there, we’ll go there,” she said. “But we can’t go there until we have all the facts.”
Nadler promised an “aggressive” fall schedule for impeachment investigations, starting with a public session next week with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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