Republicans are now employing a new strategy to block House Democrats from getting the full Mueller report by demanding they impeach President Donald Trump first.
An overwhelming 75 percent of Americans want the Mueller report released to the public, and even members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s own team say that Attorney General William Barr’s brief four page summary of the 400 page report makes it seem less damaging to Trump than it actually is.
That means Barr is engaged in a cover-up designed to protect Trump by burying the most damning details discovered during the Russia investigation, which could warrant impeachment.
But Democrats do not want to pursue impeachment until they see the Mueller report.
Now Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are literally telling Democrats that in order to see the full report, they have to start impeachment proceedings against Trump first.
According to Politico:
Republicans on the committee say the only “judicial proceeding” Congress can lead is an impeachment inquiry — a claim they say is backed up by legal precedent and history. Democrats would have to launch one against Trump if they want Mueller’s grand jury evidence, Republicans say.
The GOP is citing a recent DC Circuit Court ruling that judges can only unseal grand jury materials “preliminary to or in connection with a judicial proceeding.”
Republicans seem to be focusing entirely on the “judicial proceeding” part of the ruling and ignoring the “preliminary” part.
Seeing as how Democrats are investigating Trump to see if he has done something wrong to warrant impeachment, that’s all a court really needs to hear to order the release of materials Congress needs access to to do their constitutional duty.
“I can understand why Republicans would like to interpret this morning’s decision as cutting off all access by Congress to these materials. There’s probably something very damaging to the president there,” a Democratic Judiciary Committee counsel told Politico. “But no court, including the D.C. Circuit in this morning’s case has ever held that Congress must be in an impeachment proceeding in order to access grand jury materials.”
Again, an investigation precedes or is preliminary to an impeachment proceeding. Therefore, Democrats should have access to the full report.
Former House Judiciary Committee chief counsel Julian Epstein agrees.
“As a legal matter, the Judiciary Committee has always had access to grand jury material involving questions of presidential misconduct, and I can’t imagine the courts ultimately deciding otherwise in this case,” Epstein said. “This Republican gamesmanship of wanting an impeachment declaration is childish form over substance, and the courts will not likely bow to that kind of rhetorical legerdemain.”
It’s time for Republicans to stop hiding the Mueller report. The American people want to see it and Congress needs to see to it. Hiding it only hurts Trump and the GOP ahead of the 2020 Election when voters will likely punish Republicans because Trump looks guilty. After all, if the Mueller report really exonerates him, why bury it?
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