Mystery company to pay fines in challenging Mueller-related subpoena
The Supreme Court Monday turned away an effort by an unnamed foreign government-owned corporation to resist a subpoena related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The court’s order restores a daily fine the company will face that had been put on hold by Chief Justice John Roberts while the full court considered the issue. It is an apparent loss for the company and marks the full court’s first foray into the Mueller probe.
The order will put pressure on the company to turn over information to the grand jury or otherwise cooperate with Mueller as contempt fines continue to accumulate.
The company will have to pay $50,000 a day until it complies by turning over information, the DC Circuit said in an opinion published Tuesday. Those fees haven’t yet piled up, but will begin now since the Supreme Court declined earlier Tuesday to freeze the fees.
There were no noted dissents in the high court’s two-sentence order.
In a separate filing, the company has asked the court to review its case on the merits. The court has yet to rule on that request.
CNN Supreme Court Analyst and University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck said it’s unlikely the justices would step in at this point. “The fact that no Justice publicly noted a dissent from today’s order suggests that the Court is inclined to stay out of this dispute altogether,” Vladeck said.
All the briefs in the case have been filed under seal.
The company has been fighting a subpoena from a DC-based grand jury, and faced court-imposed fines for every day it did not turn over information. The company wanted the Supreme Court to put those mounting penalties on hold while it moved to appeal the lower court opinion.
In ruling against the company, the appeals court said the request fell within an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act that limits foreign governments from being sued in US courts. The court also held that the company had not shown that its own country’s law bar compliance.
Grand jury matters in the federal court system are typically kept secret, unless a witness decides to speak about the subpoenas they receive or their experience testifying.
However, the case has still been one of the most secretive in years to progress through the court system.
It apparently included two face-offs between special counsel office prosecutors and the unnamed company’s private attorneys.
After losing at the trial level, the DC Circuit Court closed a floor of the courthouse during appellate arguments to keep the identities of the arguing attorneys completely under wraps.
The company has kept nearly all its filings secret — with the exception of a log of when it submits information to the appeals courts.
Though the Supreme Court allows for cases like this to be secret in their early requests, the high court has never heard a known case where all parties and arguments stayed confidential.
This story has been updated.