Democratic lawmakers have made it clear in recent weeks that their investigation into President Donald Trump has not concluded simply because his impeachment trial ended with an acquittal in the U.S. Senate.
One of the efforts underway in pursuit of that goal was blocked this week, however — at least temporarily — when the U.S. Supreme Court declined Dems’ request for sealed grand-jury documents from the investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as The Hill reported.
Following the conclusion of the probe by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team, House Democrats filed a suit demanding related information be released for their review. The Mueller investigation concluded last year with a determination that there was no evidence of collusion or obstruction by Trump.
“Ongoing presidential impeachment investigation”
While lower courts sided with the Democratic position and ordered the materials released, the Trump administration appealed, and the case ended up in front of the nation’s highest court.
In their decision on Wednesday, justices temporarily denied the request and set a date next month for the submission of formal legal briefs, The Hill noted.
For their part, attorneys for House Democrats have argued that information from the grand jury is necessary as part of an “ongoing presidential impeachment investigation,” Fox News reports.
According to court documents, lawyers confirmed that an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee “did not cease with the conclusion of the impeachment trial” and that legislators on that panel continue to pore over evidence, Fox added.
“If this material reveals new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the articles adopted by the House, the committee will proceed accordingly — including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment,” the lawyers went on to argue.
“A dereliction of his duty”
As for the Trump administration’s attorneys, they contend that releasing the secret documents to lawmakers would have a “chilling effect” on future witnesses called to testify in federal cases.
Although there remains no evidence of illegality or wrongdoing on the part of Trump either before or after the election, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden recently responded to a hypothetical question about whether he would pardon his successor of a crime if elected president in November.
“It is not something the president is entitled to do, to direct either a prosecution and/or decide to drop a case,” he reportedly said during a virtual town hall event. “That is not the president’s role, responsibility. And it’s a dereliction of his duty.”
Democratic lawmakers might be entitled to conduct as many investigations as they like into the sitting president, but as this probe drags on without an end in sight, they might soon find more and more Americans agree with Trump’s assessment that it is nothing more than a “witch hunt.”