In a stunning, detailed, historically sourced, and overwhelming rebuke to the Trump administration’s arguments, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., has ordered the Department of Justice to turn over grand jury materials from Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The 75-page ruling rejected Trump administration arguments that the President is immune to prosecution, and even to investigation, while in office. Among the most important elements in the ruling were:
- The finding that the President enjoys no immunity to criminal investigation while in office.
- The finding that impeachment is a judicial process—effectively requiring lawmakers who would otherwise be entitled to act from political leanings to put those biases and factional interests aside.
- The finding that the ongoing closed depositions are legal and appropriate, given the need to gather and verify evidence before proceeding to public impeachment hearings.
- The finding that grand jury materials must be released to avoid injustice.
- The finding that the 1973 Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel memo—which says the President cannot be indicted while in office—does not have the weight of law.
- The finding that key questions of Mr. Trump’s possibly demonstrable guilt in a series of criminal conspiracies could be clarified in the documents ordered to be released.
There are shocking and tragic questions about Trump’s motivations for withholding aid to Ukraine and for efforts to obstruct the Special Counsel’s investigation—as outlined in the Mueller Report itself. Chief Judge Howell’s ruling makes clear Congress has both the power and the responsibility to review all available evidence.