Politics

Democrats tell Supreme Court they might drop fight for Mueller documents because Trump lost the election

Key Points
  • Democrats told the Supreme Court they may drop their fight for secretive grand jury materials produced in connection with Robert Mueller's investigation of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.
  • Lawyers for the House Judiciary Committee said in a filing that the panel will reconsider after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated and a new Congress is sworn in whether they will still seek the records.
  • They asked the court to cancel arguments in the case that were scheduled for Dec. 2.
U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, June 15, 2020.
Doug Mills | NYTimes | Getty Images

Democrats told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that they may drop their fight for secretive grand jury materials produced in connection with former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

Lawyers for the House Judiciary Committee said in a filing with the justices that the congressional panel will need to reconsider after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated and a new Congress is sworn in whether they will still seek the records.

They asked the court to cancel arguments in the case that were scheduled for Dec. 2. Arguments could still take place at a later date.

The request comes in the wake of Biden's victory over Trump in this month's presidential election.

The committee had justified its request for the normally closely guarded grand jury materials on the basis that the records might help with an investigation into whether to impeach the president for a second time.

The law allows for grand jury materials to be released for a "judicial proceeding," and the legal question in the case was whether an impeachment investigation qualified. But with Trump leaving office, that question may no longer be relevant.

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"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," wrote Douglas Letter, the general counsel for the House of Representatives.

"But a new Congress will convene in the first week of January 2021, and President-elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021," he added. "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."

Two lower courts including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit sided with the Democratic-led congressional committee and ordered the Justice Department to turn over the materials.

But the Supreme Court in May temporarily blocked the transfer of the materials and in July agreed to decide the case, effectively ensuring that the committee wouldn't be able to view the records before the election took place.

Trump has not conceded the race, which NBC News and other media outlets called for Biden on Nov. 7. Biden is projected to win 306 Electoral College votes, compared with Trump's 232.

A filing submitted in the case by the Justice Department on Nov. 13 did not acknowledge the results of the election. The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.