Unsealed Docs Show Fight To Make Mueller Grand Jury Case More Public

President Barack Obama and FBI Director James Comey xxx at an installation ceremony at FBI Headquarters in Washington, Monday, Oct. 28, 2013. Comey, a former Bush administration official who defiantly refused to go along with White House demands on warrantless wiretapping nearly a decade ago, took over last month for Robert Mueller, who stepped down after 12 years as agency director. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Charles Dharapak/AP

Several filings were unsealed Wednesday in the dispute over the lack of transparency in the secret grand jury case brought by a witness subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The filings unsealed Wednesday revealed more about the back-and-forth between prosecutors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which sued to unseal court documents and details about the grand jury case.

An appellate court also on Wednesday ordered that “Company A,” the unidentified foreign-owned corporation that is fighting Mueller’s subpoena, submit by next week proposed redactions for currently sealed court filings in the underlying grand jury case, meaning more will likely be revealed soon about the closely-watched subpoena fight.

Since reporters picked up on hints last fall that Mueller may be linked to the sealed case, details about it out have come out slowly. Courts so far have held up Mueller’s subpoena, and the company — having been held in contempt and facing a steep fine — has taken its fight to the Supreme Court.

Much of the filings unsealed Wednesday deal with the procedural minutia of the transparency lawsuit that the Reporters Committee brought. For instance, one of the freshly unsealed government filings is a “Motion of the United States to Unseal the Response of the United States to Motion to Unseal.”

However, the unsealed government filings reveal the identities of other prosecutors signed on to the briefings not previously known to be involved in the matter. Members of Mueller’s team, as well as attorneys in the U.S. Attorneys Office of D.C. are listed on the filings.

The unsealed filings illuminated some of the fault lines between between the Reporters Committee, which is pushing for transparency, and the government, which has agreed to allow some filings in the grand jury case to be released publicly with redactions.

The Reporters Committee repeatedly argued that the identity of Company A should be allowed to be made public. In an unsealed filing from January 28, the group pointed to an email exchange its lawyers were on with prosecutors and with the company’s attorney. The government cc’d the company’s attorney when sending the Reporters Committee a court filing.

“Rather than objecting to this revelation, Petitioner’s counsel responded to the full email group and acknowledged receipt,” the filing unsealed Wednesday said. “Based on these emails, counsel for the Reporters Committee now knows the name of the law firm and counsel representing Petitioner despite the over-redacted Petition and the over-redacted proceedings in this Court.”

The group also noted, in a freshly unsealed Feb. 4 filing, that the company’s own public court documents have said that the corporation is referring to itself as Company A  “[b]ecause of the sealing order in place”.

“[T]he Response suggests that Appellant is willing to share its identity publicly but that the government is barring it from doing so,” the Reporters Committee said. The group added in a footnote that if the company  was being barred by the government from publicly identifying itself, “such a prohibition would present both due process and First Amendment concerns.”

The government in its filings agreed to let some of the court documents — including a transcript from oral arguments — in the underlying grand jury case be unsealed with redactions. Prosecutors requested that the court allow them to submit redactions to those filings and order that the company file its own redactions as well.

The government, however, pushed back on the idea that the public had a right to access information pertaining to the grand jury proceedings.

“As noted, the government has agreed to make public the briefs and oral argument transcript, subject to appropriate redactions to protect matters occurring before the grand jury,” the government said in a Feb. 5 filing unsealed Wednesday. “With respect to those materials, the First Amendment could provide no greater right of access.

In a filing on Feb. 6, the most recent of the filings unsealed Wednesday, the Reporters Committee said that it “respectfully reserves the right to challenge redactions the parties propose in this Court or in the district court.”

It asked specifically that company’s identity not be redacted, given that the company “appears to have no interest in seeking to preserve the secrecy of its identity or its penalty.”

“Such a redaction would not be consistent with the First Amendment or the public’s common law right of access,” the group said.

Read the unsealed filings below:

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