Chief Justice John Roberts stayed a subpoena and contempt order in a case arising from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in a Sunday night order.
Sunday’s order marks the first time that the Supreme Court has intervened in the Mueller inquiry.
Very little is known of the case, which reached the high court on Saturday, because the matter has proceeded through the federal courts under seal, meaning strict confidentiality prevails over every detail.
The scant facts which are available about the case are these: a grand jury issued a subpoena to an unnamed company which is owned by a foreign government sometime during the summer of 2018. That firm, referred to in court filings as “the corporation” has been fighting the subpoena in federal court since August.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit released one of the few public filings in the matter on Dec. 18, finding that the foreign corporation must comply with the subpoena.
The company appealed that decision to the Supreme Court Saturday. The corporation faces a fine for every week that it fails to abide by the subpoena.
Roberts’ Sunday night decision temporarily halts the subpoena and the non-compliance fines. The Department of Justice must submit a response to the foreign company by Dec. 31.
The chief justice’s order is not necessarily significant. The justices often issue a temporary reprieve of lower court decisions — called an administrative stay — while the full court considers how it wants to proceed.
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