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The Department of Justice argued Friday that a federal court should dismiss House Democrats' attempts to acquire grand jury material a...

DOJ argues House Democrats should not acquire grand jury material from Mueller investigation

The Department of Justice argued Friday that a federal court should dismiss House Democrats' attempts to acquire grand jury material and testimony from former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe because the lawmakers cannot concur on the breadth of necessity for the information.

The DOJ pointed out clashing language demonstrated by House Democrats regarding the House Judiciary Committee's probe into obstruction of justice and whether it qualifies for an impeachment investigation. DOJ officials also noted the House leadership's unwillingness to classify the matter as an impeachment probe.

"Most prominently, the Speaker of the House has been emphatic that the investigation is not a true impeachment proceeding," the DOJ wrote.


Columnist Paul Bedard on the expanded Washington Examiner magazine

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The DOJ mentioned that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats were "not even close" to opening a formal impeachment investigation.

The DOJ filing also underlined House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's remarks this month that the Judiciary Committee is seeking to accelerate court cases by persuading federal courts to convince the administration to deliver documents and testimony.

House Democrats have tried to receive access to grand jury materials that were acquired throughout Mueller's investigation. The Judiciary panel has asserted that the inquiry is an "impeachment investigation" and is undergoing preliminary steps to "judiciary proceeding." House Democrats insist the action fulfills an exception to federal grand jury secrecy regulations.

The DOJ rebuffed that assertion on Friday and cited conflicting remarks by House Democrats, including confessions that the Judiciary Committee's investigation can lead to other results beside impeachment.

"As the Committee’s Chairman has stressed—and as the Speaker of the House and the House Majority Leader both reiterated this week—the purpose of its investigation is to assess numerous possible remedial measures, including censure, articles of impeachment, legislation, Constitutional amendments, and more," the Justice Department said. "What may come of this investigation—if anything—remains unknown and unpredictable."

The DOJ then maintained that even if the House's inquiry constituted a preliminary impeachment probe, the federal grand jury secrecy rules would still have to be upheld.

"[I]mpeachment proceedings in Congress — including hypothetical removal proceedings in the Senate — are not ‘judicial proceedings’ under the plain and ordinary meaning of that term," the Justice Department said