What Politico calls a “sleeper” case stemming from the apparent murder of a Columbia University professor six decades ago could keep special counsel Robert Mueller from publishing information about the Trump campaign and Russia that he obtains through a Washington, D.C., grand jury. The case is unrelated to Mueller’s investigation into whether any of President Trump’s associates aided Russia’s efforts to intervene in the 2016 election. If an appeals court set to hear the murder-related case next month sides with the Justice Department and rules that judges don’t have the freedom to release grand jury information that is usually kept secret, it could thwart any plans Mueller has to issue a public report on his probe’s findings. It might even keep the special counsel from sending a report to Congress, shaking Democrats’ hopes that such a document could provide the impetus for impeachment proceedings against the president.
Harvard Law professor Alex Whiting said that if the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit accepts the U.S. Justice Department’s arguments, “that would have potentially enormous implications for the future of the information from the Mueller investigation. That could close out a path by which that information becomes public.” The case was brought by attorney and author Stuart McKeever regarding the disappearance of Jesus Galindez, a Columbia University professor and political activist who disappeared in New York City in 1956. He may have been kidnapped, flown to the Dominican Republic, and killed. McKeever wants a judge to release secret testimony given to a D.C.-based grand jury that investigated Galindez. The Justice Department argues that judges don’t have “inherent authority” to release such information unless it falls under exemptions approved by Congress, which don’t apply in the Galindez case — or in Mueller’s investigation.