Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is proceeding, and by all appearances, this Friday the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in a case brought by an individual called as a witness in the investigation who’s resisting a subpoena to testify before a grand jury. Involved parties are going to extreme lengths to prevent any more details from getting out — and they have never even intended for any apparent association with Mueller to become public in the first place.
This Friday, they went so far as to seal the entire floor where the arguments were being heard in an effort to keep the identities of the parties involved from being revealed.
Authorities even checked the building’s stairwells, according to one reporter on the scene, to ensure no one was staking out in an effort to catch a glimpse of someone whose identity could shed some light on the nature of the case.
There are no revealing identities in the publicly available version of the court’s docket of cases, and judgments and filings in the case — which has been going on for months, apparently — remain sealed. We know that in the D.C. Circuit, it’s being handled by Judge Beryl Howell — and that’s about it.
The issue first kicked off in August, and a judgment was entered in the grand jury case in October, the month after it first went up to the D.C. Appeals Court. That circuit rejected the case for “lack of jurisdiction” — but now it’s back, and any changes to the filings or teams to make it more in line with the court’s jurisdiction remain unknown.
That’s seriously nearly all that’s known about the case. Jay Sekulow, who serves as a lawyer to President Donald Trump, said it had nothing to do with him, and similarly, it’s reminiscent of but distinct from a court challenge Roger Stone associate Andrew Miller has launched against the special counsel and a subpoena he’s been slapped with.
A POLITICO reporter happened to be in the appeals court clerk’s office when a man asked for the special counsel’s latest sealed filing so his team could craft their response — on the same day a sealed response was submitted in the heavily shrouded case in question.
Attorney Ted Boutrous, who’s handled cases like this before, explained his take to POLITICO:
‘The bottom line is the most likely scenario is someone filed a motion to quash or otherwise resisted a grand jury subpoena, and the judge issued an order denying that and saying the witness needs to testify.’
The big question, though, is who the witness who refuses to cooperate is — let alone why they’re not cooperating.
One anonymous attorney representing a senior Trump staffer against the Russia inquiry quipped:
‘This can get a step or two weirder than it already is. It could be anyone who’s been subpoenaed by the special counsel for anything.’
Recent developments in the Mueller investigation that we do know about have included former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleading guilty to lying to Congress and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort getting outed as still lying, even after pleading guilty and agreeing to cooperate.
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