A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Justice Department to reveal some material connected to the grand jury information from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow, Fox News informed.
Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell balked at the Justice Department’s appeal to reject a House Judiciary Committee request for grand jury materials, including redacted portions of Mueller’s report, ordering the department to disclose which and how many FBI witness interview reports have been given to the committee and how many they plan to turn over.
The judge also decided that the department must give asnwer why it was withholding interviews with witnesses who did not go before the grand jury.
Howell’s ruling came after hours of testimony from lawyers for House Democrats and the Justice Department.
“This is not a situation of us getting all sorts of materials,” a lawyer for House Democrats said. “We’re getting almost nothing.”
The judge, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2010, called some of DOJ’s arguments for withholding information “extreme,” citing the department’s contention that some of the material from the Watergate grand jury should not have been handed over to Congress during the impeachment inquiry into former President Nixon.
“Wow, OK,” Howell said, according to The Post. “As I said, the department is taking extraordinary positions in this case.”
The Justice Department stated that a 1974 federal appeals court decision that said impeachment proceedings are exempt from grand jury secrecy rules is not valid anymore as a U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit this year tightened requirements for exclusion of impeachement proceedings.
The judge also gave an order for the DOJ to reveal by Friday whether the Mueller team had disclosed grand jury information when asking for help from other countries, explaining that she wanted to know if the DOJ was keeping some information from Congress, which had already been disclosed to foreign countries.
Republicans have also argued that a formal impeachment inquiry is not taking place until the House has a vote on impeachment. Democrats rejected claims that a vote needs to be held.
The judge hasn’t said when she’ll make a decision on whether DOJ has to turn over the material.
The lawsuit predates the impeachment inquiry into President Trump over a phone call with Ukraine’s president in which he asked him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.