U.S. top court rebuffs mystery company in Mueller subpoena fight

U.S. top court rebuffs mystery company in Mueller subpoena fight

The U.S. Supreme Court building is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a bid by a unidentified company owned by a foreign government to contest a grand jury subpoena related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s now-completed inquiry into Russia’s role in the 2016 election, though the justices’ action does not force the firm to comply.

A federal judge has imposed an ongoing fine of $50,000 a day against the company, which had asked the justices to hear its appeal of a December lower court ruling that upheld a judge’s decision to hold it in contempt for refusing to fulfill the document request made in the subpoena.

The Supreme Court rejected the appeal in a brief order with no noted dissents from any of the nine justices.

Mueller submitted a final report on his findings to U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Friday. On Sunday, Barr said Mueller did not find a conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

The case has remained a high-profile mystery, with the Supreme Court and lower courts declining to identify the company, the country that owns it or the specific purpose of the subpoena. The company has said it was a witness – as opposed to a suspect – in Mueller’s investigation.

Court filings show that the company has a U.S. office, though it has said it possesses no relevant documents in the United States. Court papers detailing its legal arguments have been made public but all information about the specific facts of the dispute are redacted.

The Supreme Court in January refused to put the lower court ruling on hold. According to court filings, the daily fine imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell started accruing on Jan. 15, so the company could now owe more than $3 million. Such fines accrue until the grand jury is no longer sitting. It is unknown whether the grand jury has completed its work.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham

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