The Justice Department said it needed more time to appeal a lower court's ruling saying that the House judiciary committee had the right to view secret grand jury materials from Robert Mueller's investigation. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
May 7 (UPI) -- The Trump administration on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to intervene to prevent the Justice Department from having to turn over secret grand jury material from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation to Congress.
The 37-page filing asks for a stay of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in March that said Democrats can ask for portions of Mueller's report that had not been made public. The lower court gave the Justice Department a May 11 deadline to hand over documents requested by the House judiciary committee.
Solicitor-General Noel Francisco said the administration needed more time to file an appeal in the case.
"The government will suffer irreparable harm absent a stay," he wrote on the filing. "Once the government discloses the secret grand-jury records, their secrecy will irrevocably be lost.
"That is particularly so when, as here, they are disclosed to a congressional committee and its staff."
The filing also said that if the grand jury information was made public, it would harm the panel's secrecy going forward.
"Absent assurances of secrecy, 'many prospective witnesses would be hesitant to come forward voluntarily,' and those who do come forward 'would be less likely to testify fully and frankly,'" the filing said, quoting a previous Supreme Court decision.
The Democratic-held House judiciary committee has been fighting for the grand jury materials since last summer, as part of its own investigation into Russian electoral interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The Justice Department argued earlier this year that the committee needs a court order to see the materials -- and even with that, without a judicial proceeding, they could only see redacted versions of the documents. The appellate court disagreed.