House Judiciary Wants to Delay Supreme Court Fight Over Mueller Materials

WASHINGTON (CQ-Roll Call/TNS) -
Robert Meuller. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert/File)

The House Judiciary Committee wants to postpone next month’s Supreme Court showdown over its quest to see more documents from former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation — and hinted the next Congress might not want or need to continue the legal fight.

In a two-page filing at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, the committee asked the justices to pause the case that is set for oral argument on Dec. 2 and could settle whether the Justice Department must turn grand jury materials in such probes to lawmakers.

There will be a new Congress in early January and Democrat Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president on Jan. 20, the committee told the Supreme Court in a motion.

“Once those events occur, the newly constituted Committee will have to determine whether it wishes to continue pursuing the application for the grand-jury materials that gave rise to this case,” the motion states.

The Justice Department, which has objected to releasing the normally secret grand jury materials to the committee, will respond later to the committee’s request to move the oral arguments.

The justices have agreed to decide the complex inter-branch dispute over the grand jury materials that Mueller generated in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which also focused on President Donald Trump’s interference in that Mueller investigation itself.

The committee filed an application to see the materials in July 2019, as part of the run-up to impeachment proceedings. The House impeached Trump late last year, and the Republican-led Senate acquitted him in February after an impeachment trial that lasted several weeks.

The case turns on whether a Senate impeachment trial counts as a “judicial proceeding,” which would qualify the Judiciary Committee for an exemption to rules that typically keep grand jury information secret.

A ruling against the committee could solidify the Trump administration’s position that lawmakers can’t see the grand jury information now and maybe in the future. It’s possible the committee also expects a Biden administration to not put up the same objections to their application to get the information.

The committee continues to investigate allegations of misconduct by Trump, oversight of the Trump administration and legislative overhauls related to the Mueller investigation, the filing Tuesday states.

The Mueller materials fight is one of a number of cases the Supreme Court could find moot because of a change in administrations.