Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The House Judiciary Committee is investigating whether President Donald Trump lied to former special counsel Robert Mueller in his written answers in the Russia probe, the committee's lawyer told a panel of federal circuit court judges Monday.
House attorney Douglas Letter told the three-judge panel that the House needed access to the secret grand jury material Mueller collected to determine if Trump lied.
"Did the president lie?" Letter asked. "Was the president not truthful in his responses to the Mueller investigation?"
The move comes after Trump's former campaign adviser and political operative Roger Stone, 67, was convicted Friday as the sixth Trump staffer convicted on charges related to Mueller's 22-month investigation. The five others include former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. Among the charges Stone was convicted of were obstruction, making false statements and witness tampering.
In particular, Stone lied about his WikiLeaks contacts in the 2016 campaign, and his trial and conviction renewed focus on Trump, who said in written testimony that he didn't recall discussing WikiLeaks with Stone. Gates testified at Stone's trial that Trump and Stone discussed information that could help Trump's 2016 campaign while Stone was trying to get details about stolen Democratic documents WikiLeaks had.
The House has been trying to get access to secret grand jury information that has been redacted from the Mueller report, including testimony from Manafort and Gates regarding WikiLeaks.
Judge Thomas Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee, questioned Monday the relevance of the Mueller report given that press reports show that the House impeachment inquiry is now focused on whether Trump withheld foreign aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to launch investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
"Don't believe everything you read in the press," Letter said.
Letter said House Democrats are still looking into potential obstruction of justice in the Mueller report.
He added that House Democrats are broadly interested in evidence to make a determination regarding Trump's "ability to continue to serve as president."
The grand jury at the direction of Attorney General Bill Barr has refused to hand over grand jury materials.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell had ordered the Justice Department to release certain materials redacted for grand jury secrecy to the House Judiciary Committee last month, but a federal appeals court blocked the release and issued an emergency stay.
Griffith agreed with Trump-appointed judge Neomi Rao Monday that the courts might not have jurisdiction and should stay out of the dispute between Congress and the Justice Department regarding the grand jury evidence.
Meanwhile, Democratic appointee, Judge Judith Rogers seemed prepared to side with the House, allowing them to access the records while Rao seemed inclined to grant the stay.
Whatever the circuit judges do, the battle may end up in the Supreme Court, if it agrees to hear the case.