Supreme Court allows appeal over mystery grand jury subpoena to be filed under seal

Supreme Court allows appeal over mystery grand jury subpoena to be filed under seal
© Stefani Reynolds

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will allow an appeal to be filed in a dispute over a mystery grand jury subpoena to a foreign government-owned company.

The case, with participants that remain unknown, is thought to be tied to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow.


The justices granted a request to file the petition for a writ of certiorari under seal with redacted copies for the public record, which means the public may get more information about the case.

The lower court and the parties involved have gone to great lengths to keep information secret, with few known details. The federal grand jury subpoena, which is being kept under seal along with related court filings, seeks information from a corporation owned by a foreign government, known in court filings only as “Country A.”

The subpoena fight has generated intense public interest since October, when Politico reported on its apparent ties to the Mueller investigation. It has not been publicly confirmed that the case has ties to the special counsel’s probe.

Officials went to great lengths to shield oral arguments from reporters in the case at the District of Columbia appeals court in December, clearing an entire floor of the courthouse so that the participants in the court hearing would not be revealed.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals released a decision later that month that revealed some nebulous details about the case, including that a company owned by a foreign country was fighting the subpoena. The court upheld an earlier ruling holding the company in contempt despite the firm’s argument it was immune from the subpoena under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and that complying with the subpoena would force it to break the laws of Country A.

The court also ordered the company to pay a fine that would increase daily for each day that the firm does not comply with the subpoena.

In late December, the company asked the Supreme Court to intervene by pausing the contempt citation and the fine.

Chief Justice John Roberts put a temporary pause on the lower court order, but the justices eventually denied to issue a stay earlier in January. That decision came hours after the Supreme Court disclosed it had received a request for permission to file an appeal in the case under seal.

Updated at 10:42 a.m.