This Decades-Old Suspected Murder Case Could Derail Mueller’s Report

August 27, 2018, 2:55 PM UTC

A 62-year-old mystery disappearance might stop Robert Mueller from publishing any of the information he obtains about the Trump campaign through a grand jury, Politico reports.

The suspected murder has nothing to do with Mueller’s investigation of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, but an appeals court decision expected next month on whether a judge in the case can release secret testimony could have huge implications for Mueller’s findings.

In 1956, Columbia University professor Jesus Galindez disappeared. His body was never found, but it was suspected that he was kidnapped and taken to the Dominican Republic, where he may have been killed. Attorney and author Stuart McKeever, who has spent decades looking into the disappearance, is suing the Justice Department for the release of grand jury testimony on the disappearance. If the Justice Department wins the day with the argument that judges don’t have the inherent right to release such information it would set precedent that might block Mueller from publishing his findings as intended.

Neither the Galindez case nor the Mueller investigation fall under exemptions to the rule against releasing grand jury testimony. Such exemptions have to be approved by Congress.

But even if the Justice Department loses, it’s not clear what mechanism would allow Mueller to publish his team’s findings. Unlike earlier special counsel appointments, there’s no provision in the regulations under which Mueller was appointed that allows for disclosure of grand jury testimony to Congress or the public.

The Trump administration has made increasingly aggressive attempts to discredit and end the Mueller investigation as the midterm elections approach, but so far they have been unsuccessful. They don’t seem to be winning in the court of public opinion either. Last week a Fox News poll showed support for Mueller’s investigation at nearly 60%, 11 points higher than it was at the beginning of the summer.

There is at least one way Mueller’s report could be published even if the Galindez testimony remains sealed: the House Judiciary Committee could subpoena the report as part of impeachment proceedings. That eventuality may depend upon the outcome of this fall’s midterm elections.