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Democrats seek Mueller's grand jury material, sidestepping impeachment debate

This image shows Nadler standing behind a podium and speaking at a press briefing.
Jerry Nadler and Democrats on House Judiciary Committee Friday, July 26. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said at a Friday press briefing that his committee is petitioning for Robert Mueller's grand jury material, including testimony from former White House counsel Donald McGahn.

What it means: Nadler said his committee is “in effect” carrying out an impeachment inquiry, "but stressed that it differs from that because other outcomes are possible," per the Washington Post. Nadler is "attempting to sidestep a debate raging inside his party over whether the House should hold a vote to formally declare that it is opening an impeachment inquiry," the NYT reports.

What they're saying: “I would say we are in an impeachment investigation, and as to the results of the investigation, it could lead to articles of impeachment or something else,” House Judiciary member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) said on Friday.

  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) agreed with Raskin, and several junior committee members told reporters the same thing — that this filing essentially launched an "impeachment investigation."
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi approved the language in Friday's lawsuit, according to a source familiar with its drafting, the Times reports.

The bottom line: Constitutional and judicial precedent suggest the House can launch impeachment investigations in many ways — and, "There is no formal rule that says the full House must formally authorize an impeachment inquiry for the committee to conduct one," per the Times.

Go deeper: Where grand jury material fits in the new case for impeachment