Lawyers for the House of Representatives just filed a jolting court brief in the case to obtain the Mueller report’s underlying grand jury evidence, which included a pair of new revelations about the House’s angles of investigation into the president.
General Counsel Douglas N. Letter’s new filing accuses President Trump of lying to the Special Counsel about his knowledge of communications with Wikileaks, the rogue transparency organization he infamously mentioned over 160 times in the final month of the 2016 presidential campaign.
The House Judiciary’s filing also ties the Special Counsel’s interviews with Trump’s convicted former campaign chairman Paul Manafort into the new Ukraine whistleblower scandal that provided the spark for official impeachment proceedings to begin.
Judiciary Democrats need to prove to the court that they have a particular need for the secret grand jury materials, and they started by pointing out that peering under the Mueller Report’s redactions could prove that Trump’s written answers to the Special Counsel were lies under oath, which of course is a federal crime. They wrote:
Not only could those materials demonstrate the President’s motives for obstructing the Special Counsel’s investigation, they also could reveal that Trump was aware of his campaign’s contacts with WikiLeaks.
Those materials therefore have direct bearing on whether the President was untruthful, and further obstructed the Special Counsel’s investigation, when in providing written responses to the Special Counsel’s questions he denied being aware of any communications between his campaign and WikiLeaks.
Trump’s political operative Roger Stone is going on trial next month for lying about his ties to Wikileaks to the federal government, in addition to witness tampering and obstructing an investigation.
The Special Counsel’s filings have already pointed the finger at President Trump for potentially being the person directing Stone’s actions. For his part, Roger Stone has admitted that he regularly spoke with Trump on the phone about campaign business during the election.
That’s not all.
House attornies argued that because the Republican-led House Intel panel chose not to interview former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort before he was convicted of numerous crimes, the only place they can get the information is from Mueller’s grand jury. It’s a compelling argument because it shows that lawmakers can’t just obtain the same information elsewhere, so they have a particular need for the otherwise sealed grand jury records.
Specifically, the House General Counsel Letter’s filing explained how the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Trump’s coercion of political campaign help intersects with Special Counsel Mueller’s interviews with Paul Manafort before he stopped cooperating. They wrote:
In fact, renowned investigative journalist Murry Waas recently revealed that the new whistleblower scandal actually has its roots in the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani going to Ukraine in search of excuses for Trump to pardon Manafort.
One of President Trump’s alleged co-conspirators obtained the information through a joint-defense agreement and provided documents to Waas, who writes in the New York Review of Books:
These records indicate that attorneys representing Trump and Manafort respectively had at least nine conversations relating to this effort, beginning in the early days of the Trump administration, and lasting until as recently as May of this year.
Through these deliberations carried on by his attorneys, Manafort exhorted the White House to press Ukrainian officials to investigate and discredit individuals, both in the US and in Ukraine, who he believed had published damning information about his political consulting work in Ukraine.[sic]
Donald Trump’s criminal defense lawyer Jay Sekulow told Politico that it was “absurd” that the president lied to investigators. Considering that the president lies almost compulsively about literally everything, there’s a good reason to disagree with that assessment.
For the rest of the twenty-six-page filing, the House lawyers rebut all sorts of spurious claims by the Department of Justice lawyers opposing the Mueller grand jury information’s release, after they slung the petty claim of a “fishing expedition” — which is the typical excuse of corrupt governments trying to hide their incriminating records from investigators.
The Mueller grand jury secrecy case has become – like too many others – a sad example of the Department of Justice shirking its role as a nonpartisan agency with a neutral interest in upholding the law and turning into a personal legal defense team for President Trump.
However, nearly all of the precedents are in favor of releasing grand jury material to the House as it investigates the impeachment of the president using its “sole power” under the Constitution’s Article I, including a recent, precedent-setting DC Circuit Court decision this April.
But the real news is that the House is planning an article of impeachment over Trump’s prospective lies to Mueller about Wikileaks, and they’re on to the links between ex-felon Trump campaign chairman Paul Manaofrt and the President’s current extortion scheme with foreign aid to Ukraine.
Read the complete court filing here:
What do you think?
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report. Find out more at grantstern.com.