The Justice Department (DOJ) announced Monday it will appeal a decision by a federal judge that ordered the agency to transmit secret grand jury evidence from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to Congress.
On Friday, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell issued the directive in a brief order, writing: “Congress’s need to access grand jury material relevant to potential impeachable conduct by a President is heightened when the Executive Branch willfully obstructs channels for accessing other relevant evidence.”
Democrats had requested that the department provide the material, which was redacted from Mueller’s report, as part of their ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
Justice Department lawyers argued at a hearing earlier this month that House Democrats already had sufficient evidence from Mueller’s investigation, including copies of summaries of FBI witness interviews.
On Monday, DOJ lawyers requested in a separately filed motion for Howell to pause the order pending review from an appeals court.
“Although the [House Judiciary Committee] claims that it needs the information promptly because it continues to investigate matters connected to the Mueller Report, there appears little dispute that, for now, that investigation is secondary, and Congressman [Adam] Schiff and the House Intelligence Committee — not the Judiciary Committee — is the lead committee heading the congressional investigation,” they wrote.
The case will be sent to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.