Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office may have already subpoenaed President Donald Trump to testify in the ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
A Wednesday Politico report offers informed speculation that the two parties are duking it out in court over the suspected attempt to force Trump to testify before a grand jury.
According to the report, at least some of the evidence comes from conversations overheard by reporters at the courthouse.
The report notes:
But now, thanks to Politico’s reporting (backed up by the simple gumshoe move of sitting in the clerk’s office waiting to see who walks in and requests what file), we may know what Mueller has been up to: Since mid-August, he may have been locked in proceedings with Trump and his lawyers over a grand jury subpoena—in secret litigation that could tell us by December whether the president will testify before Mueller’s grand jury.
The evidence lies in obscure docket entries at the clerk’s office for the D.C. Circuit. Thanks to Politico’s Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn, we know that on August 16th (the day after Giuliani said he was almost finished with his memorandum, remember), a sealed grand jury case was initiated in the D.C. federal district court before Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell. We know that on September 19, Chief Judge Howell issued a ruling and 5 days later one of the parties appealed to the D.C. Circuit. And thanks to Politico’s reporting, we know that the special counsel’s office is involved (because the reporter overheard a conversation in the clerk’s office). We can further deduce that the special counsel prevailed in the district court below, and that the presumptive grand jury witness has frantically appealed that order and sought special treatment from the judges of the D.C. Circuit—often referred to as the “second-most important court in the land.”
Politico points out that Trump attorneys have denied knowing the identity of the witness, but adds: “What, of course, would we expect a lawyer to say when asked about a proceeding the court has ordered sealed?”
“At every level, this matter has commanded the immediate and close attention of the judges involved—suggesting that no ordinary witness and no ordinary issue is involved,” the article says, offering “one final—but compelling—clue” suggesting that Trump was the identity of the witness in question.
“President Trump’s sole appointee to that court, Gregory Katsas, recused himself,” the report states. “[I]f the witness were the president himself—if the matter involved an appeal from a secret order requiring the president to testify before the grand jury—then Judge Katsas would certainly feel obliged to recuse himself from any official role.”
Update: Trump attorney Jay Sekulow denied the report, saying, “The report in Politico is completely false. There has been no subpoena issued and there is no litigation.”
Read the entire report at Politico.