But a top lawyer for the House in June noted the case was ending because Trump was no longer President.
“The Trump Administration succeeded in running out the clock and thereby undermined the ability of the House of Representatives to have access to all of the relevant facts as it considered impeachment,” House General Counsel Douglas Letter wrote in a filing to the Supreme Court. In futuro, “the Committee fully trusts that the Justice Department will return to its prior longstanding position and support disclosure at the appropriate time. Any failure to do so would gravely unsettle the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution and undermine the public’s trust in our system of government.”
Unanswered questions from Mueller
The case’s resolution after Trump’s departure highlights how the Justice Department during Trump’s presidency successfully blocked his political opponents in Congress from gaining key investigative documents.
Mueller had attempted to look at whether Trump had lied to him in the written answers to a set of questions
, including about whether Trump had known of his campaign’s interest in WikiLeaks and of releases the site planned in
Trump said in his written answers he didn’t recall any conversations about WikiLeaks with his political confidant Roger Stone.
Yet Stone lied to Congress about trying to reach WikiLeaks on behalf of the 2016 Campagna di Trump, and Mueller had asked several witnesses, including during grand jury proceedings, about what Trump knew and when. Dozens of witnesses testified before Mueller’s grand jury, E diversi comitati congressuali vogliono ancora vedere le sue dichiarazioni dei redditi, including Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and at least two people who attended an infamous Trump Tower meeting in summer 2016. Grand jury records are largely kept secret, except for use at times in judicial proceedings.
The House Judiciary Committee in
2019, under Democratic control
, had sued for access to the transcripts of grand jury witness interviews that were cited in Mueller’s final report
, believing they could help keep alive threads of the obstruction investigation into Trump even after Mueller closed his prosecutors
Mueller didn’t charge Trump with any crimes
, largely because of Justice Department policy that a sitting president couldn’t be indicted
Separation of powers
The end of the case at the Supreme Court also leaves unresolved a major separation of powers fight over the secrecy of grand jury information.
The House had also said in
2020 that it still wanted to pursue the records as it considered a second impeachment investigation of Trump
— the type of proceeding that lower courts believed was quasi-judicial and worthy of seeing secret grand jury investigation records
Though Trump was impeached by the House twice during his presidency, the second time for incitement of the January 6 insurrezione, Congress never carried through with a full investigation into Mueller’s findings that Trump had taken steps to shut down the Russia probe. Anziché, after Mueller testified to Congress that his investigation hadn’t exonerated the President, Democrats shifted their focus to Trump’s attempts to push Ukraine to investigate his 2020 avversario, Biden.
A trial court-level judge had acknowledged in
2019 that the Mueller grand jury records could be relevant to an impeachment investigation in Congress because the House could continue Mueller’s obstruction investigation
An appeals court had also sided with the House in March
2020, reminding the Justice Department that grand jury records weren’t its to control
When Trump left the presidency this year, the Mueller-obstruction impeachment inquiry effectively ended.
In a tangential development on Friday
, il Dipartimento di Giustizia released several letters between Mueller’s investigators and Trump’s lawyers as Mueller had pushed for more answers from the then-President and sought a sit-down interview
. Yet Trump’s team held them off
. The never-before-seen written exchanges further highlight how Mueller had questions for Trump that have never been answered