- Judge Beryl Howell, who could decide Trump’s fate, worked for Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee
- Howell signed off on Mueller’s request to assemble a grand jury
- If grand jury put together a report that would kick off impeachment proceedings, Howell is the person to approve making any of its findings public (or available to Congress)
From Daily Beast:
Beryl Howell is in a position to make pivotal decisions. And her importance could only grow. Federal court rules indicate that she signed off on Mueller’s request to assemble a grand jury, a highly secretive gathering of about two dozen people in Washington’s E. Barrett Prettyman courthouse that will grill witnesses and demand Trump associates’ documents.
And if (well, when) Team Trump’s lawyers hit back, Howell will be the umpire-in-chief: deciding whether or not Trump allies’ lawyers can quash subpoenas, and whether or not people like Jared Kushner can invoke what’s known as executive privilege to get out of testifying under oath before Mueller’s grand jury.
These decisions could be immensely consequential.
“Even though she worked for Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, she’s been very straight-arrow as a judge and she wouldn’t be impaneling a jury for the heck of it, or anything less than there being ample justification for it,” said a former federal lobbyist, referring to Howell’s previous work for Sen. Patrick Leahy. “She’s like Mueller: He wouldn’t ask for it unless he had more than enough evidence to justify it, and she wouldn’t have granted it unless he did.”
In the coming months, Howell’s role could become far more active. The grand jury could put together a report that would kick off impeachment proceedings, according to conservative former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy. The manual for U.S. attorneys says that before the grand jury could issue a report making any of its findings public (or available to Congress), a judge—meaning Howell—would have to approve it.