Mueller probe reaches Supreme Court as mystery nation fights subpoena

Since its inception in May 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has uncovered much information about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election, leading to more than 30 indictments with guilty pleas.

However, the latest series of events suggests there may be another party involved.

Since August 2018, a mysterious grand jury subpoena case linked to the Mueller probe has been working itself through the federal court system. Speculation heightened on Dec. 11, as an entire floor of reporters were cleared to protect the identity of parties battling the federal government in a case involving Special Counsel Mueller. Four days later, D.C. circuit judges semi-revealed the identity of the litigants, describing them as a corporation owned by an unnamed foreign state, “Country A”.

According to a three-page briefing published by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a foreign owned entity had engaged in transactions that impacted the U.S. and matters involving the special counsel’s investigation. It is unknown the identity of “Country A”, but nations such as Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have been speculated as possible culprits.

Currently, the corporation in-question is in the process of fighting the subpoena, basing its immunity on the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA), a law established in 1976 which grants legal protection to foreign powers being sued by the U.S. government.

Through a loophole in a clause embedded in the FSIA law, however, the circuit court was able to uphold its subpoena. However, the unknown corporation still refused to appear in court, was found in contempt for its non-compliance and subsequently charged.

In justification of its actions, a regulator from “Country A” filed an appeal with the court claiming compliance with the subpoena would cause the corporation to violate its national laws.

In the legal document, the corporation states: “We consider the Corporation’s alternative argument that the subpoena is unreasonable and oppressive because it would require the Corporation to violate Country A’s law. As the party invoking foreign law, the Corporation ‘assumes the burden of showing that such law prevents compliance with the court’s order.’”

In an act of retaliation, the state-owned corporation filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court hoping that it would uphold “Country A’s” legal claims of sovereignty.

On Sunday, Dec. 27, 2018, Chief Justice John Roberts granted a temporary pause regarding the contempt charge, making it the fist time that the Supreme Court intervened in the Mueller investigation. However, the pause is likely to come to an end as the High Court is now expected to decide whether or not the freeze should remain in place.

Robert Mueller was expected to file a response by New Year’s Eve, but there has been no further updates on the legal status of the case.

With the outcome uncertain, this mystery case carries with it serious ramifications. If taken up by the nation’s highest court, the identity of “Country A” would likely be revealed as the Supreme Court is heavily scrutinized by the American media and rarely keeps its cases clandestine.

 

[Business Insider] [NBC News] [Newsweek] [CNN] [AFP/Getty Images via CNN]

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