U.S. appeals court says House panel can access Mueller report material

FILE PHOTO: The hand of acting counsel Aaron Zebley, longtime aide to Robert Mueller at the FBI, is seen turning a page of the Mueller report that references former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn as former Special Counsel Robert Mueller (Not shown) testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday upheld a ruling that granted a Democratic-led House of Representatives committee access to material redacted from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the law requires the Justice Department to provide to the House Judiciary Committee grand jury material from Mueller’s investigation that had been blacked out of the report.

Mueller submitted his report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr in March 2019 after completing a 22-month investigation that detailed Russia’s campaign of hacking and propaganda to boost Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 election as well as extensive contacts between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

Barr, a Trump appointee who Democrats have accused of trying to protect the president politically, released the 448-page report in April 2019 with some parts redacted.

The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena last year seeking grand jury material redacted from the report as part of Democrats’ effort to build a case for removing Trump from office through impeachment.

A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The department could ask the same court to reconsider Tuesday’s decision or appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Will Dunham

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