The case seemed to be coming to a close last month when Gaubatz agreed to return the documents. But on Nov. 25 the government filed a sealed motion, which was followed be a sealed order. A court has the power to seal records if, among other reasons, they are deemed sensitive to an ongoing investigation.
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says the group's lawyers are aware of a government subpoena in the case, but that they are still trying to figure out what exactly is going on.
Another change in the docket of the case is the addition of an interested party, an assistant U.S. attorney in the DOJ's National Security Division named Lynn Haaland. According to Hooper, she is the official whose name was on the subpoena.
Some have suggested that CAIR may be under investigation. The group was named in a lengthy and controversial list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation case in Texas involving funding of Hamas.
It's not clear what's in all of the CAIR documents, but one memo that was trumpeted as incriminating by WND and a group of House Republicans was underwhelming. Politico described it at the time as "basically [laying] out a fairly straight forward public relations and lobbying strategy." CAIR, which has repeatedly denounced terrorism, has been defended by an 87-member congressional caucus.
Adding to the mystery is a Nov. 24 report from WND, the conservative clearinghouse for Birther and War on Christmas news.
On the day before the government's sealed motion, according to WND, the FBI "swooped in" to confiscate the CAIR documents, visiting the Washington office of Bernie Grimm of Cozen O'Connor, one of Gaubatz's attorneys.
The WND story isn't entirely coherent -- it refers alternately to a grand jury subpoena and a search warrant -- but the central claim is that the FBI came in to take the documents that were about to be returned to CAIR. Along with the article was a press release blasted by WND. Joseph Farah, the CEO of WND, said, "The revelations raised about CAIR in Muslim Mafia have clearly piqued the [FBI's] interest."
Bernie Grimm, the lawyer whose office WND claims was visited by the FBI, has not returned calls.
A spokesperson for the FBI's Washington field office told TPMmuckraker she could find no record of a search, but the bureau's policy is not to comment on grand jury proceedings, even to confirm or deny that one has been convened.
Just yesterday another sealed order was noted in the case's docket, "granting Defendant's Motion for Emergency Hearing," to be held yesterday. We'll be keeping a close eye on this case, so stay tuned.