On Thursday (February 23), a federal judge denied a request from The New York Times and Politico to have the grand jury investigation into the January 6 insurrection unsealed.
Politico and The New York Times, represented by their reporters Kyle Cheney and Charlie Savage, made an unusual request for the court to unseal a filing about former President Donald Trump’s use of executive privilege in the investigation.
Both news organizations argued that the probe’s “historical significance,” along with the existing public reporting on the matter, justified the requested materials being released.
But in Thursday’s ruling, Chief District Judge, Beryl Howell, rejected those arguments, noting that “historical significance” wasn’t a strong enough justification for the disclosure and that the reports cited by the news organizations hadn’t made “continued secrecy unnecessary.”
Howell explained that neither the government nor the presumed grand jury witnesses had declined or confirmed to comment on existing reports, which have all been attributed to “people familiar with” the matter rather than official statements.
He added that given the lack of “equivalent disclosure to the government or a grand jury witness” that proclaimed “from the rooftops” about sealed grand jury information, the news reports cited in the filing were “insufficient to unseal any grand jury material.”
Howell’s decision comes as reports have swirled about Special Counsel Jack Smith, leading the DOJ’s investigation into January 6, frequent use of subpoenas, which the federal judge explained “anyone apprised of how criminal investigations progress could surmise” would be before the grand jury.