A nonprofit group that represents journalists in legal matters has filed a motion asking a federal appeals court to bring to light filings in a mystery grand jury subpoena case that is thought to be tied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.
In the 33-page filing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press argues that the “public’s right of access” outweighs both the federal government and the parties involved have said is cause to keep the filings and proceeds sealed.
“The public has a First Amendment and common law right to review documents filed in appellate courts, and to know what arguments are being made to those courts,” said Katie Townsend, legal director for RCFP, in a statement Wednesday.
The nonprofit organization asks that the court’s proceedings and records be released, even if that means in redacted format.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court order that found the company — known as “the Corporation” owned by “Country A” — must comply with a federal grand jury subpoena, or be held in contempt and pay a $50,000 per day fine.
The scant details were only revealed once the D.C. Circuit released their ruling in early December.
The fight against the subpoena then reached the U.S. Supreme Court, and Chief Justice John Roberts in late December issued a temporary administrative stay of the contempt fines.
Tuesday morning, the company even signaled it was ready to ask the high court to take up their case right away based on the merits.
But in a two-sentence order later Tuesday, the Supreme Court said Roberts’ order was vacated, and the high court would not hear the case — thus meaning if the company did not comply with the grand jury subpoena, the contempt fines would continue.
On Wednesday, CNN reported that one law firm involved in the case has previously represented Russian interests. That law firm is Alston & Bird, and attorneys involved in the case include Washington-based white-collar lawyer Ted Kang and Brian Boone, a North Carolina appellate-attorney.
On his professional website, Kang says he represents “numerous entities and individuals in connection with” Mueller’s investigation.
And Boone lists the Republican National Committee regarding public records litigation as among his past clients.