When it was revealed after two years of investigation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report was a dud that wouldn’t result in the impeachment of President Donald Trump, the House Judiciary Committee led by Jerry Nadler (D-NY) shifted gears and demanded that all of the secret grand jury materials compiled during Mueller’s probe be turned over in hopes that impeachable offenses would be found.
The committee filed a petition in court requesting complete access to the unredacted grand jury materials, but a stunning counterargument filed by Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys in opposition to that request not only destroyed the entire premise of Nadler’s request, it also used quotes from Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to do so.
Justice Department attorneys argued in their filing that the Nadler-led committee should not be given access to the secret grand jury materials for several reasons, but particularly in light of the fact that House Democrats themselves couldn’t even agree on why such material was needed or how it would be used.
The position put forward by the committee was that the grand jury materials were needed in order for the committee to determine whether or not to move forward with official impeachment proceedings, which in its view qualified as a “judicial proceeding” for which grand jury materials could legally be released.
The DOJ lawyers countered by contending at length in their 46-page filing that impeachment proceedings were not the same as “judicial proceedings,” and even if they were, the committee had yet to actually head down the impeachment road just yet, much less show a “particularized need” for the secret grand jury materials.
Not a judicial proceeding
Ironically, the DOJ attorneys cited remarks from Speaker Pelosi to undermine Nadler’s claim of an ongoing impeachment proceeding requiring and permitting the release of the secret grand jury materials.
“The Committee’s own description of its investigation makes clear that it is too far removed from any potential judicial proceeding to qualify,” the DOJ lawyers wrote in the introduction to their response to Nadler’s request.
“As the Committee’s Chairman has stressed — and as the Speaker of the House and the House Majority Leader both reiterated this week — the purpose of its investigation is to assess numerous possible remedial measures, including censure, articles of impeachment, legislation, Constitutional amendments, and more.”
Words coming back to haunt them
Later in the DOJ filing, in a section meant to address the semantic games Democrats such as Nadler were playing with regard to “impeachment proceedings,” the DOJ lawyers more specifically quoted Pelosi to weaken those claims.
“Most prominently, the Speaker of the House has been emphatic that the investigation is not a true impeachment proceeding. On the same day the House adopted the resolution that the Committee claims authorized this suit, the Speaker told a reporter the House Democrat caucus was ‘not even close’ to an ‘impeachment inquiry,'” the DOJ noted.
“More recently, she has said, ‘I do know that we’ve been on a path of investigation and that includes the possibility of legislation or impeachment,'” the attorneys added, and threw in a quote from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer for good measure. “And the House Majority Leader had even explained that branding the Committee’s proceeding as ‘impeachment’ is a simply a device to enhance the Committee’s legal arguments in this and other courts.”
In other words, despite Nadler’s assertions to the contrary, House Democrats aren’t officially impeaching President Trump yet, and even if they were, they still wouldn’t qualify for an exemption to the rules governing the secrecy of grand jury materials. The fact that the DOJ attorneys utilized quotes from Nadler’s superiors in the House to help make that case only served as hilariously ironic icing on this particular cake.