It’s being treated by the federal court system like it’s the most crucial case in United States history. Yet because it’s also being treated as one of the most secretive court cases in U.S. history, we know virtually nothing about it. It’s the case of Special Counsel Robert Mueller (we think) vs someone in the Trump-Russia scandal who’s important enough to make the entire DC Court of Appeals bend over backward to accommodate the matter accordingly. Here’s what little we do know about the case:
1) Not one official word has been said about this ongoing court case by anyone involved. We only know it exists because secretive hearings keep taking place. That said, various reporters have spotted Robert Mueller’s top prosecutors in just enough proximity to the court case to make clear that it almost certainly involves him.
2) Minor details have leaked out which strongly suggest that this is a court battle over a grand jury proceeding. Some legal observers suspect Mueller has subpoenaed Trump to testify, but we’re not sure that alone would be enough to warrant all the secrecy. Other legal observers have suggested that Mueller may have already had a grand jury indict Trump, and he’s seeking to get the court to allow him to unseal it. Still others think Mueller may have indicted Pence. But all of these are merely logical guesses, based on almost no available evidence.
3) Whatever this court battle is, it’s been going on since August. It’s currently at the U.S. Court of Appeals level, meaning that it started out in lower court, one side won, and the other side is appealing. We have no way of knowing which side won the initial ruling and which side is appealing. But this is clearly a battle that’s been going on a long time, meaning it’s not a result of anything that’s sprung up in the past few months.
4) Secrecy surrounding this court matter is off the charts. Various reporters have tweeted that the entire floor of the courtroom was sealed off ahead of time in order to keep them out. This level of security is typically only reserved for cases in which a witness is being shielded from the public. But an appeals court case of this type wouldn’t involve having a witness testify. This suggests that the secrecy is due to the sheer importance of the case.
5) The entire DC Court of Appeals has dropped what it’s doing in order to hear this case – it’s apparently that crucial to the fate of the nation. That said, one judge has recused himself from the panel; it’s a guy who was recently nominated by Trump, after he did some legal work for Trump’s defense. His recusal strongly suggests that this case is about Trump, or directly involves Trump.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report