Alwaght- A US judge has validated on Friday the legality of the impeachment inquiry launched by the Democrats against President Donald Trump and ordered his administration to hand over an unredacted copy of a report by former special counsel Robert Mueller who investigated the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election, Reuters reported.
This comes on Friday the same day when Democratic lawmakers in the US House of Representatives issued subpoenas to three top officials in the White House as part of the inquiry.
US District Judge Beryl Howell undermined an argument that Trump’s fellow Republicans have made in criticizing the inquiry, saying the House did not need to approve a resolution formally initiating the effort.
The judge said that the Justice Department had until Wednesday to provide the blacked out material from the Mueller report subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee.
“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 wrote, using an acronym for the Justice Department.
The department had earlier asserted that the redacted information could not be revealed for it contained material from grand jury proceedings that had to be kept confidential, but the judge took issue with that.
“DOJ is wrong,” Howell said, adding that the committee’s need for disclosure of the materials “is greater than the need for continued secrecy.”
“Impeachment based on anything less than all relevant evidence would compromise the public’s faith in the process,” added Howell, a former federal prosecutor appointed to the bench by Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.
Howell also withholding the evidence “undermines the House’s ability to carry out its constitutional responsibility with due diligence,” the judge noted.
The subpoenas by the House Democrats on Friday targeted Russell Vought, the acting director of Office of Management and Budget, Michael Duffey, associate director for National Security Programs and Ulrich Brechbuhl, the State Department counselor.
The House committees, leading the probe, said Duffey is scheduled to testify on November 5, and Vought and Brechbuhl must appear on November 6.
All three officials are expected to face questions about their knowledge of a White House decision to block military aid to Ukraine despite approval from Congress and the Pentagon.
Trump is struggling with an impeachment inquiry focused on his request in a July telephone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination to face Trump in the 2020 election.