The Trump administration is again fighting for greater secrecy in a Clinton-focused investigation: this time, the independent counsel probe that explored President Bill Clinton’s relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
A raft of court records from grand jury-related proceedings related to the investigation have remained secret for two decades, but last month a federal judge — acting on a request from CNN — ruled that the vast majority of the files should be made public.
But early Wednesday, the Justice Department appealed that decision to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The move is likely to delay the release of the request information for months or longer.
The Justice Department had no immediate comment, but court filings indicate that government lawyers made the broad assertion that the court lacks authority to release grand jury records for reasons of “extreme public interest” or any other reason not specifically detailed in federal court rules.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell disagreed, ruling that the court had “inherent” power to disclose grand jury information for other reasons.
Justice Department attorneys did not object to unsealing some information already made public in a report Independent Counsel Ken Starr sent to Congress in 1998, but Howell said some matters had been so thoroughly aired in the report that there was little point in keeping the related records under wraps.