Mueller Grand Jury Work Is Continuing ‘Robustly,’ U.S. Says
(Bloomberg) -- A grand jury investigation started by Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues “robustly,” even though his report on his probe into potential Russian collusion with President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign has been delivered, a federal prosecutor said in court on Wednesday.
The disclosure by David Goodhand, a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, came during a federal court hearing in Washington over whether the identity of a foreign government-owned company that refused to comply with a grand jury subpoena should be revealed to the public. The company took its fight to the Supreme Court, which on Monday declined to intervene.
Two former federal prosecutors said the grand jury activity may indicate that the office is pursuing matters spun off from the Mueller probe.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has asked the trial court to unseal the name of the company, whose identity has remained under wraps in court filings throughout its fight against the subpoena. The committee’s lawyer, Theodore Boutrous, told U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell that the name of the company should be released since the Mueller probe, which also looked at potential obstruction of justice, has wrapped up and the Supreme Court had rejected its appeal.
This prompted her to question whether the grand jury’s work was also concluded. Goodhand said it continues “robustly.”
“The key here is the unique circumstances that we’re in,” Boutrous told Howell. “This is not an ordinary witness.”
Goodhand didn’t offer any additional details on what the grand jury is still considering, and both he and the company’s lawyers said the identity of the witness should remain secret. Mueller submitted his findings on Friday to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who said the special counsel had no other indictments to announce or unseal. The grand jury’s term was extended in January by Howell for another six months.
The continued activity may indicate that the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, which has been increasingly involved in several aspects of the Mueller investigation, is using the panel to consider evidence because of its “existing knowledge and experience,” former federal prosecutor Ryan Fayhee said in an interview after the hearing. Fayhee added he “would not be surprised if more indictments are to come, but to be handled by the USAO” in Washington.
Former Detroit U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade agreed. McQuade, now a University of Michigan law professor, said Goodhand’s statement suggests a case “spawned” from the Mueller probe, but not involving Russia, continues.
“By handing off cases to other DOJ entities, Mueller demonstrated that he took a narrow view of his mission,” McQuade said. “The foreign ownership of this company from which prosecutors seek documents is all that we know about it. The investigation could relate to activities that have been reported regarding UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Ukraine, or it could relate some country we don’t yet know about.” UAE is the United Arab Emirates.
The Special Counsel didn’t find the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired with Russia, Barr said in a summary of Mueller’s report. The attorney general also concluded that there weren’t grounds to charge the president with obstructing the investigation, after Mueller said he couldn’t come to a decision.
The company has argued that the federal Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act should exempt it from complying with the subpoena. Howell issued a contempt order for resisting the request, fining it $50,000 per day, a sum that may now exceed $2 million.
Federal prosecutors and the company are working on what materials can be made public, they told Howell at the hearing, a painstaking process to avoid “inadvertent disclosures” that Goodhand said could have “great consequences.”
The judge didn’t rule on whether or when she’ll reveal the company’s identity.
The case is In Re Grand Jury Subpoena, 18-gj-41, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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