Supreme Court postpones consideration of fight over Mueller grand jury materials

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Washington — The Supreme Court said Friday it will postpone oral arguments in a legal fight over attempts to obtain secret grand jury materials from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee asked the court this week to remove the dispute from its December argument calendar due to the upcoming change in presidential administrations. In an unsigned order, the court granted the request to push back the arguments originally set for December 2.

“The committee’s investigations into misconduct by President Trump, oversight of agency activities during the Trump administration, and consideration of related legislative reforms have remained ongoing. But a new Congress will convene in the first week of January 2021, and President-elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021,” lawyers for the House wrote. “Once those events occur, the newly constituted committee will have to determine whether it wishes to continue pursuing the application for the grand-jury materials that gave rise to this case.”

In addition to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Trump, Democrats also kept control of the House, though they will hold fewer seats in the next Congress, which begins January 3.

The Justice Department told the Supreme Court in a filing Thursday it was not opposed to Democrats’ request to delay oral argument, writing it “will proceed however the court chooses.”

The dispute between Democrats and the Trump administration over the materials arose following the release in April 2019 of Mueller’s report on Russian interference, which included redactions of grand jury information and testimony. The Justice Department declined to disclose the grand jury documents, as rules governing those proceedings dictate that matters occurring before a grand jury remain secret.

The Judiciary Committee asked a federal district court in Washington to authorize the release of all redacted portions of the report, including underlying grand jury transcripts or exhibits, as part of its impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump. Both the district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of House Democrats, but the Supreme Court in early May temporarily blocked the panel from obtaining the redacted material.

The court said in July it would take up the legal battle, but in doing so ensured the House would not have access to the documents until after the election.

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