The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving a battle over the release of material from the Russia investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Democrats in the House have subpoenaed the full, unredacted version of the final report from Mueller’s investigation, including grand jury materials. The Trump administration has argued in response that the release of that material would be an unwarranted breach of the secrecy that traditionally surrounds grand jury proceedings, and now, the Supreme Court will hear the dispute in their next term, which begins in October.
Currently, the Supreme Court has a conservative-leaning majority, but Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, has already proven that he’s willing to buck trends, even if briefly. He has sided with the four liberal justices on the nine-member court in recent cases including one over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and another involving an attempt at imposing abortion restrictions in Louisiana. In the DACA case, he sided with upholding the program, and in the Louisiana case, he sided with blocking the state’s abortion restrictions from implementation.
Additionally, in this case, there’s already a precedent for courts siding in favor of the House Democrats. In March, a three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of House Democrats’ subpoena, ordering the Department of Justice to hand over the Mueller investigation material. The Justice Department requested that the Supreme Court put that order on hold while the appeals process played out, and the Supreme Court has done so.
Department of Justice lawyers have claimed:
‘In light of the national prominence of this grand-jury investigation, the separation-of-powers concerns raised by the decision below, and the potential damage that decision could inflict on ‘the proper functioning of our grand jury system,’ this Court’s review is warranted.’
Although the Department of Justice has tried to mask their behavior under the guise of protecting something along the lines of the proper separation of powers, there’s also a clear political benefit to their efforts. The more material from Mueller’s investigation that remains secret, the more chances that Trump and his associates have to evade accountability for their behavior.
Trump hasn’t exactly kept his despising of Robert Mueller a secret. At one point, he tweeted:
‘These were Mueller prosecutors, and the whole Mueller investigation was illegally set up based on a phony and now fully discredited Fake Dossier, lying and forging documents to the FISA Court, and many other things. Everything having to do with this fraudulent investigation is badly tainted and, in my opinion, should be thrown out… The whole deal was a total SCAM.’
That’s just nonsense. There is no evidence that the Mueller investigation was “illegally set up,” plain and simple.
….badly tainted and, in my opinion, should be thrown out. Even Mueller’s statement to Congress that he did not see me to become the FBI Director (again), has been proven false. The whole deal was a total SCAM. If I wasn’t President, I’d be suing everyone all over the place…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2020
Attorney General Bill Barr has long proven that he’s willing to operate the Justice Department in line with the president’s wishes. For instance, his team intervened to lower the government’s sentencing recommendation for longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, and they moved to drop the case against Trump ally Michael Flynn entirely.