US judge says Trump impeachment inquiry legal

The court ruling came in an order demanding that the Justice Department provide the House with blacked-out evidence from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

A US judge on Friday handed a major victory to House Democrats investigating US President Donald Trump and directed his administration to hand over an unredacted copy of secret grand jury testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

US District Judge Beryl Howell also found that House Democrats are engaged in a legal impeachment inquiry, undercutting arguments from House Republicans and the administration that launching the probe is illegitimate without an initial vote.

The judge said the House does not need to vote on a resolution before formally initiating an impeachment inquiry, confirming the wide powers of Congress to carry out its constitutional role of conducting oversight.

“Blocking access to evidence collected by a grand jury relevant to an impeachment inquiry, as DOJ urges, undermines the House’s ability to carry out its constitutional responsibility with due diligence,” the judge said, using an acronym for the Department of Justice.

She ordered the Justice Department to give the House Judiciary Committee an unredacted copy of the Mueller report by October 30. The Justice Department had argued that secret material from grand jury proceedings could not be provided to the Judiciary Committee after the body issued a subpoena.

“The reality is that DOJ and the White House have been openly stonewalling the House’s efforts to get information by subpoena and by agreement, and the White House has flatly stated that the Administration will not cooperate with congressional requests for information,” the judge said.

“DOJ is wrong,” Howell said, adding that the committee’s need for the materials “is greater than the need for continued secrecy.”

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