The Department of Justice is going to appeal a judge’s ruling that it must release the whole of the Mueller report, unredacted and with supporting materials, to the House Judiciary Committee in support of the impeachment inquiry.
In addition to filing the appeal, Justice has asked Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court in Washington to stay her ruling pending that appeal. “Although the [House Judiciary Committee] claims that it needs the information promptly because it continues to investigate matters connected to the Mueller Report,” Justice lawyers write, “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.”
Justice had originally argued that the materials shouldn’t be released because the House wasn’t conducting a formal impeachment inquiry, an argument the judge rejected in her ruling, writing, “Even in cases of presidential impeachment, a House resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry.” The new line of defense from Justice seems to accept that reality—this is an official, valid inquiry—and to try to weasel out of it with the excuse that a whole different Trump scandal is the subject of the inquiry, so this one can’t be included.
That’s not likely to fly with Howell or with the appeals court. She pointed out in her ruling that the full report should have been released to Congress when it was completed, as intended. “In carrying out the weighty constitutional duty of determining whether impeachment of the President is warranted, Congress need not redo the nearly two years of effort spent on the Special Counsel’s investigation, nor risk being misled by witnesses, who may have provided information to the grand jury and the Special Counsel that varies from what they tell HJC,” she wrote.