House Takes Step Towards Impeachment With Mueller Doc Demand

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), (L), enters the hearing for the testimony of  Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker before the House Judiciary Committee on the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Friday, February 08, 2019. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto)
NurPhoto via Getty Images

House Democrats are investigating whether to impeach President Trump, according to a Friday petition for a D.C. federal judge to release grand jury information from the investigation of former special counsel Robert Mueller.

“This Committee is conducting an investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment,” the filing reads.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) sent the petition for a tailored array of information from the Mueller investigation to D.C. chief judge Beryl Howell, who will decide whether to release the protected material to Congress.

Congressional investigators limited the request to four categories of information relevant to a potential impeachment inquiry emanating from the Mueller investigation: the extent of President Donald Trump’s knowledge of Russian interference during the 2016 election; his knowledge of any links between his campaign and Russia; his knowledge of any “potential criminal acts” by him or his associates; and actions taken by former White House counsel Don McGahn.

Nadler announced that he would file the application at a midday Friday press conference on Capitol Hill, telling reporters that his committee had a “responsibility”to open the inquiry.

In the filing, House Democrats said that in order to ensure that President Trump is held accountable in the wake of the Mueller report, the House must have the necessary information to “consider whether to exercise its full Article I powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity—approval of articles of impeachment.”

Federal law tightly restricts when documents or testimony collected during a grand jury investigation can be released.

The Friday filing asks Judge Howell to release the material to Congress under an exception allowing for “judicial proceedings” — arguing that the potential future impeachment of President Trump in the Senate is a form of judicial action.

In the filing, House attorneys relied on arguments dating to Watergate, when Judge John Sirica agreed to a request from the House Judiciary Committee to release the underlying grand jury material collected during the Watergate investigation.

The filing refers to the case of H. R. Haldeman, the Richard Nixon chief of staff who went to prison for charges relating to Watergate. After Judge Sirica ordered the material released, Haldeman moved to block the documents from changing hands under the same grand jury secrecy provision cited by Attorney General Bill Barr in declining to release the information to Congress.

“Here, as in Haldeman, a specially appointed prosecutor has produced extensive evidence of misconduct by a sitting President,” House Democrats write. “And here, as in Haldeman, the Department has adopted the view that a sitting President cannot be indicted—while the specially appointed prosecutor has acknowledged the importance of Congress’s own ‘constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct.'”

Read the petition here:

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