Although Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has targeted President Donald Trump and his associates — they’re not the only ones under scrutiny. An unnamed foreign government-owned company is continuing to press to be free from the burden of a subpoena Mueller’s team apparently issued, and this week, they filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court to that effect, which in a significantly redacted form is available to read publicly.
The court had previously handled the case, but they dismissed it without hearing arguments, and now the company is back again. The publicly available version of their appeal does not mention the Mueller team — and no members of the judiciary have either — but connections have been drawn thanks to circumstances surrounding the case like an overheard conversation.
The company — wherever they’re from — argues that their foreign government connection exempts them from the jurisdiction of the American judiciary, and proceeding otherwise could “throw immunity principles into disarray around the world.” Interestingly enough, the appeal cites previous arguments as made by “Country A,” indicating just how apparently high stakes of a foreign policy issue this case is.
Lower level U.S. authorities have previously asserted that unspecified commercial activity makes the company vulnerable to American legal scrutiny. That commercial activity could include anything from banking to stoking unrest on the internet, as previously targeted Russian companies have done. The company’s filing this week does not identify their origin or the type of information the special counsel’s office is apparently seeking.
To be sure, there isn’t even a confirmation that the company is Russian, and authorities have been reported to be looking into questions of foreign interference from other countries. Middle Eastern countries like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have been suspected of illegally funneling money into the Trump camp, for instance.
As for the path forward, a government response to the company’s appeal is due February 21. Bloomberg notes that were the Supreme Court to decide to hear arguments in the case, unless they put it on an “unusual fast track” that wouldn’t actually happen until the judicial session that starts this coming October.
Were those arguments to be heard, key details of the lengthy court battle could come spilling out. The Supreme Court doesn’t generally take on cases that are completely under seal, although they’ve accepted filings that are under seal in the past.
The case has been making its way through the court system for months. The company’s original appeal of a D.C. federal judge’s contempt citation went up to D.C. appeals court twice. The second time, when the case was actually heard, authorities cleared out the entire floor in an effort to conceal the identities of those involved, and eventually ruled in favor of Mueller.
While previously considering whether or not to hear the case, Chief Justice John Roberts paused the daily fines the failing to comply with the subpoena that the company was facing, possibly indicating what direction he’d lean in a potential final verdict. At present, the Supreme Court has a generally conservative majority.
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