The House of Representatives have filed a lawsuit demanding grand jury evidence that contributed to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said that they need evidence to look into potential obstruction of justice and abuse of power by President Donald Trump.
No one can be above the law, not even President Trump,” Nadler said.
Grand jury evidence is generally confidential when it doesn’t result in criminal charges. Attorney General William Barr blacked out portions of Mueller’s 448-page report that dealt with grand-jury evidence. However, a federal court may be able to order the release of the evidence to Congress.
Nadler said the evidence will point out elements of Muller’s investigation which didn’t yield charges, including a former Trump campaign manager giving polling information to Russians or payments to the president that appeared to go against the Constitution.
Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the committee, said House Democrats didn’t have any right to the grand jury evidence.
“Chairman Nadler’s legal action here is sure to fail, weakening Congress’ ability to conduct oversight now and into the future,” Collins said. “Democrats want to convince their base they’re still wedded to impeachment even after this week’s hearing, but a baseless legal claim is an odd way to show that.”
The lawsuit argues, however, that the committee has a right to access to the grand jury evidence because its investigation is precursory to a Senate trial based on House articles of impeachment.
The suit states: “Because Department of Justice policies will not allow prosecution of a sitting president, the United States House of Representatives is the only institution of the federal government that can now hold President Trump accountable for these actions. To do so, the House must have access to all the relevant facts and consider whether to exercise its full Article 1 powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity – approval of articles of impeachment.”