D.C. Panel Halts Release of Mueller Documents at DOJ’s Request

D.C. Panel Halts Release of Mueller Documents at DOJ’s RequestThe D.C. Circuit for the U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday night halted the scheduled release of grand-jury materials from Robert Mueller’s investigation, just hours ahead of the scheduled distribution.The decision came after a federal judge ruled last Friday that the Justice Department must release unredacted material from the original Mueller investigation, a move House Democrats have clamored for in the midst of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama appointee, wrote that the committee “has shown that it needs the grand jury material referenced and cited in the Mueller Report to avoid a possible injustice in the impeachment inquiry.”The DOJ contested Howell’s ruling and issued an emergency appeal, saying a quick release “threatens an irreparable loss of grand-jury secrecy before this court even has a chance to act on the Department’s stay motion.” The government also noted that Howell gave no explanation for her seemingly arbitrary deadline of Wednesday, which was not offered by Democrats.The three-judge D.C. panel — made up of judges appointed by Barack Obama — decided on an administrative stay in order “to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion for stay pending appeal and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion,” according to the decision.The debate centers around the validity of redactions to a grand-jury deposition, which is usually kept secret. The DOJ argues that materials in the report are squarely protected by federal evidence regulations, while others point to ongoing criminal matters involved, including a probe by Connecticut U.S attorney John Durham the origins of the investigation. House Democrats counter that secrecy rules do not apply to the impeachment inquiry, which is a judicial proceeding.

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