Mueller grand jury ev­i­dence is still in the mix

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Bart Jansen and Kris­tine Phillips

WASH­ING­TON – The Jus­tice Depart­ment told a fed­eral judge that a House com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gat­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is not en­ti­tled to grand jury ev­i­dence from spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, say­ing it has failed to ex­plain which spe­cific tes­ti­mony it needs ac­cess to or how it would help its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into po­ten­tial ob­struc­tion by the pres­i­dent.

“There is this gen­er­al­ized no­tion that this is an im­por­tant mat­ter be­cause of im­peach­ment and, there­fore, ( the com­mit­tee) should have ac­cess to ev­ery­thing,” El­iz­a­beth Shapiro, an at­tor­ney in the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s Civil Divi­sion, said dur­ing a two- hour hear­ing in fed­eral court Tues­day. “It also needs to be par­tic­u­lar­ized, and they shouldn’t get a pass on that be­cause of im­peach­ment.”

U. S. Dis­trict Court Judge Beryl How­ell heard ar­gu­ments on whether the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee should re­ceive the un­der­ly­ing grand jury ev­i­dence be­hind Mueller’s re­port on Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion.

The panel sub­poe­naed the ev­i­dence as part of a sweep­ing im­peach­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Trump, who has called the in­quiry a par­ti­san witch hunt. The Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee is fo­cus­ing on po­ten­tial ob­struc­tion of jus­tice, as de­scribed in 10 episodes in the Mueller re­port. But At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr redacted grand jury ev­i­dence from the re­port and ar­gued against dis­clos­ing it un­der the subpoena.

Shapiro said there first needs to be a “de­gree of for­mal­ity” in the form of a full House vote on an im­peach­ment in­quiry be­fore tread­ing into dan­ger­ous ter­ri­tory of “pen­e­trat­ing grand jury ev­i­dence.” House Democrats have ar­gued that a full House vote isn’t nec­es­sary to move for­ward with an im­peach­ment in­quiry.

Six com­mit­tees have been con­duct­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions of Trump since Democrats re­gained control of the cham­ber in Jan­uary. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D- Calif., an­nounced Sept. 24 that all of the in­quiries now fall un­der the um­brella of a for­mal im­peach­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion and that no floor vote is nec­es­sary. But Repub­li­cans have ar­gued that only the full House can au­tho­rize an im­peach­ment in­quiry.

EPA- EFE

New York Demo­crat Jerry Nadler has been lead­ing the charge.

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