02:10 - Source: CNN
Mystery grand jury in Mueller probe explained
CNN —  

Despite the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation last month, the name and country of the mystery corporation still challenging a Mueller subpoena from last summer will stay secret, a DC District Court judge decided Monday.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press asked for release of the the identity of the corporation, which is owned by an unnamed foreign government and tied to “foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election and potential collusion in those efforts by American citizens,” Chief Judge Beryl Howell previously wrote. The law firm Alston & Bird, which has previously worked for a Russian oligarch and a contractor of the Russian government, is representing the corporation.

In the 12-page opinion, Howell provided her assessment of the laws dictating grand jury secrecy, a topic she’s been asked to consider in several recent requests to make more information public from the Mueller investigation, including parts of the Mueller report.

Howell notes that the grand jury proceedings that involve the unnamed foreign-government-owned company continue, and that the law protects the company’s desire to withhold its identity.

“At bottom, Local Criminal Rule 6.1 provides the Reporters Committee with access to the briefs and transcripts, with any matters occurring before the grand jury redacted. The First Amendment and common law do not,” Howell wrote Monday.

The company appealed to the Supreme Court to maintain its secrecy, only to be denied last month. The corporation still appears to be accruing $50,000 a day fines for noncompliance, after lower courts said the company must turn over the information and imposed escalating penalties.

Howell will, however, make public more redacted documents and transcriptions in the case attempting to throw out Mueller’s subpoena, which began last August. Her move to unseal a tranche of six opinions in February revealed that the company’s records are essential to an ongoing grand jury investigation – Howell barred earlier this year Alton & Bird from making any public statements on the case.

This story has been updated.