House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on Friday said his committee is going to court to obtain the secret grand jury material underlying former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
“That information is critically important for our ability to examine witnesses including former White House Counsel Don McGahn and to investigate the president’s misconduct,” the New York Democrat told reporters.
Reading from the court filing, Mr. Nadler said the material is necessary for Congress to hold the president accountable and possibly exercise its impeachment powers.
“Because Department of Justice policies will not allow prosecution of a sitting president, the U.S. House of Representatives is the only institution of the federal government that can hold the president accountable for his actions,” Mr. Nadler said.
But Mr. Nadler stopped short of saying they would go down the impeachment road, telling reporters it “may” happen.
Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, slammed the “baseless” court filing, citing an earlier federal court ruling blocking federal judges from releasing grand jury material.
“Chairman Nadler’s legal action here is sure to fail, weakening Congress’s ability to conduct oversight now and into the future,” Mr. Collins said. “If my colleagues want grand jury information, they should propose legislation allowing Congress to access it.”
The move comes just two days after Mr. Mueller testified to Congress, saying he could not exonerate President Trump. But Mr. Mueller did clear the president on charges of conspiring with Russia and did not reach a decision on obstruction of justice.
It is not clear what the Democrats hope to learn from the grand jury materials. Most of the investigation’s high-profile witnesses have voluntarily talked with Mr. Mueller’s team rather than be forced before the grand jury.
Mr. Nadler also said he would “in short order” file a civil lawsuit to enforce a subpoena for documents and testimony from Mr. McGahn. Mr. McGahn has dodged the subpoena, skipping a scheduled hearing earlier this year.
The chairman said negotiations with Mr. McGahn are continuing but did not offer more details.
The Justice Department has allowed Mr. Nadler and other Democrats to read a less-redacted version of Mr. Mueller’s report. But it has balked at giving them access to the grand jury materials, which must remain secret under the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e).
Democrats have repeatedly urged Attorney General William P. Barr to join their effort to ask a court to unseal the grand jury materials. He has repeatedly rejected the idea.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at email@example.com.
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