There have been a lot of firsts in the Russia probe. Case in point: The mystery opponent who is apparently butting heads with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The unidentified party turned to U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts on Saturday for a stay against an appellate court ruling, seeking permission to file under seal. Based on recent developments in the case, we learned that mystery party is a foreign company, and they are fighting a grand jury subpoena under the argument that it violates the laws of their nation and the United States. This whole fight is happening largely in secret, and that mystery aspect makes the Supreme Court request unprecedented. Professor Steve Vladeck, who teaches at the University of Texas School of Law, suggested that it would be a first for justices to hear such a case under seal.
There have been sealed applications like this before, but so far as we know, #SCOTUS has never in its history conducted plenary review, including oral argument, in a case that remained entirely under seal… https://t.co/yPwpXk3mri
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) December 22, 2018
He pointed out that in 2003, justices declined to hear an immigration case in which briefings for a writ of certiorari was under seal.
Buzz about this mystery case intensified when court officials cleared out an entire floor of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on December 14, foiling the plans of reporters hoping to learn something about it and who was involved.
The DC Circuit is about to hear arguments in the sealed grand jury matter. They’ve sealed not only the courtroom, but the whole floor, so we’ve been moved away. Haven’t recognized anyone going in earlier as being connected to Mueller’s office, now we won’t be able to see
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) December 14, 2018
The identity of this corporation and its owner nation remains unclear. What is clear is that they really don’t want to submit to the subpoena. They lost in D.C. court this week, and failed to convince judges to rehear the case, hence the Supreme Court application
Mueller’s team has not been shy in going after companies and implicating foreign countries in alleged wrongdoing. They secured indictments against Russian nationals and companies accused of election interference in the 2016 presidential election. 12 of those individuals belonged to that’s country’s military intelligence, according to prosecutors.
[Image via SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images]