Politics

Supreme Court blocks House from getting Mueller grand jury materials, a temporary win for Trump

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Key Points
  • The Supreme Court temporarily blocked House Democrats from obtaining grand jury materials gathered during former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
  • The order blocked a lower court's ruling pending the filing of a formal request for the Supreme Court to review the case on appeal from the Trump administration.
  • Lawyers for the the Democrat-led panel said the materials are needed as part of its investigation into President Donald Trump, which "did not cease with the conclusion of the impeachment trial."
The US Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC, on May 4, 2020.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked House Democrats from obtaining grand jury materials gathered during former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

The stay will give the court time to decide whether to hear the Trump administration's expected appeal of lower court rulings that directed the Justice Department to hand over the grand jury materials to the House Judiciary Committee. 

If it takes the case, the high court would have the final say in the matter.

Lawyers for the the Democrat-led panel said that the materials are needed for an investigation into President Donald Trump, which "did not cease with the conclusion of the impeachment trial."

The Judiciary Committee has already won two lower court cases as part of its efforts to obtain the grand jury materials. 

Grand jury materials are normally kept secret, but can be made public through the courts in connection with judicial proceedings. House Democrats successfully argued before a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that an impeachment trial qualifies as a judicial proceeding.

While Trump was acquitted in his Senate trial in February, Democrats said they could draw up new articles of impeachment if the Mueller documents reveal fresh evidence.

Mueller had investigated Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as possible coordination between the Kremlin and Trump's campaign and possible obstruction of justice by Trump himself. Mueller did not find evidence to support Trump-Russia collusion, but highlighted multiple instances of possible obstruction in his final report.

The Trump administration earlier in May had asked the Supreme Court to put a hold on the D.C. federal appeals court's ruling for the House panel. Chief Justice John Roberts on May 8 issued that hold, and the full court kept that stay in place in its order Wednesday.

The order sets a June 1 deadline for the Trump administration to formally ask the high court to review that ruling. If the court denies the appeal request, the stay will be lifted and the lower court ruling will effect.

-- CNBC's Tucker Higgins contributed to this report.