Robert Mueller was on a winning streak in court.
The special counsel’s office chalked up win after win in his crusade to take down Donald Trump.
But that all changed when the Supreme Court destroyed Mueller’s case with this jaw-dropping ruling.
A secret court fight captivated official Washington.
A mystery foreign company filed motions in court to fight Robert Mueller’s subpoena power.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort tried to fight Mueller’s authority in court.
He lost at every turn.
So pundits and Mueller supporters expected a quick victory in this latest challenge to the special counsel’s seemingly limitless powers.
That was not to be the case.
A D.C. Circuit court judge issued a contempt citation against this foreign company for refusing to comply with the terms of Mueller’s subpoena.
The company argued that because it was an extension of a foreign government Mueller did not have the authority to compel them to comply with his subpoena.
A D.C. Circuit court three-judge panel rejected this argument.
The judge who issued the order also tacked on an escalating financial penalty to force the firm to obey Mueller’s subpoena.
But in a surprise decision, Chief Justice John Roberts issued a stay which paused the penalties and gave the Supreme Court breathing room to decide if they want to jump into this case and settle the issue.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote “UPON CONSIDERATION of the application of counsel for the applicant, IT IS ORDERED that the order of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia holding the applicant in contempt, including the accrual of monetary penalties, is hereby stayed pending receipt of a response, due on or before Monday, December 31, 2018, by noon, and further order of the undersigned or of the Court.”
This is the Democrats and Mueller’s nightmare scenario.
During Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings anti-Trump forces were worried about Kavanaugh’s previous writings where he expressed skepticism of the ability of Mueller to indict a sitting President.
Kavanaugh made his name in conservative legal circles working on independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation- and eventual impeachment – of Bill Clinton.
That led some Mueller supporters to believe Kavanaugh would rule against the firm that challenged Mueller’s authority.
But other critics think those Mueller defenders may be jumping the gun.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein handed Mueller a limitless mandate and authority.
The special prosecutor operates as a functional fourth branch of government with no accountability measures in place to check his power.
Supreme Court justices may be interested in taking this case to once-and-for-all set clearly defined limits on the authority of a special prosecutor going forward.
Trump supporters – and even many legal experts who do not support the President – believe this is long overdue.
Congress allowed the Independent Counsel statute to expire in 1999 precisely because Americans perceived the investigations to spiral out of control where prosecutors strayed far beyond their original mandate.
Many Americans and legal scholars believe it is time for Mueller to face a similar reckoning.
We will keep you up to date on any new developments in this ongoing story.