According to news reports and the filing itself, just two days after former special counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony, the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) has filed on July 26 a lawsuit in which it states that “articles of impeachment are under consideration as part of the Committee’s investigation” into President Trump’s misconduct. HJC Chair Jerold Nadler explained that this means that their investigation is “in effect” an impeachment inquiry, with articles of impeachment against Trump being one among a number of remedies that they may pursue.
The HJC filing, which is available here, is formally an “application” of more than 40 pages that asks Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court in D.C. to grant HJC access to grand jury materials in the Mueller report and back-up information that has been withheld by the Justice Department. It explains that the Committee needs access to such key documentary evidence, as well as testimony from witnesses like former White House Counsel Don McGahn, in order to “determine whether the Committee should recommend articles of impeachment or any other Article I remedies.” Quoting a July 11 memorandum by Chairman Nadler, the application notes that the articles of impeachment that have already been filed against Trump “are under consideration as part of the Committee’s investigation.” In light of the fact that the Justice Department will not prosecute a sitting president, the application goes on, Congress “is the only institution of the federal government that can now hold President Trump accountable” for his misconduct, as documented in the Mueller Report and elsewhere.
Today’s court filing is a significant step. Referring to the HJC investigation as an inquiry to help decide whether to file articles of impeachment should help convince the court that despite the usual secrecy of grand jury materials, the Committee is entitled to access to them. Nadler also made clear that HJC will be taking other important steps soon, such as filing early next week a complaint to enforce its subpoena calling on McGahn to testify.
President Trump must be held accountable for his dangerous misconduct. Today’s actions are a significant step in that direction.