WASHINGTON — The law firm Alston & Bird is representing the mystery company owned by a foreign country that is fighting a grand jury subpoena at the Supreme Court, a lawyer involved in the proceedings confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is seeking to intervene at the Supreme Court to have the filings in the dispute — which has received significant attention due to its reported connection to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — unsealed.
A lawyer for the committee, Gibson Dunn partner Theodore Boutrous Jr., told BuzzFeed News that Alston & Bird partner Brian Boone is representing the foreign country–owned company at the Supreme Court. The company has resisted a subpoena for information sought by a grand jury in DC and faces a contempt order as a result of its refusal to comply that would include daily accrual of fines.
A spokesperson for the special counsel’s office declined to comment, and a spokesperson for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither Boone nor a spokesperson for Alston & Bird immediately responded to requests for comment.
Earlier this month, CNN reported that Alston & Bird was involved in the case — noting that Boone and another Alston & Bird partner, Ted Kang, had appeared for multiple hearings opposite lawyers for Mueller’s office at federal district court. At the time, CNN reported, “It is not clear whether [the Alston & Bird lawyers] represent the company, the country’s regulators or another interested party.”
In a brief filed by lawyers for the committee Monday, however, the committee stated that “the government has revealed Petitioner’s counsel’s name (and law firm) to counsel for the Reporters Committee.” The information was revealed to the committee’s lawyers when the government “cc’d Petitioner’s attorney” on its response to the committee’s motion to intervene at the Supreme Court. “Rather than objecting to this revelation, Petitioner’s counsel responded to the full email group and acknowledged receipt,” the committee’s lawyers detailed in Monday’s filing.
After being asked about the filing Monday, Boutrous provided a statement to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday, detailing those circumstances and noting, “Petitioner’s counsel did not object to the government’s disclosure originally, and neither party has suggested to us in their emails or otherwise that we need to keep counsel’s identity a secret. Nor has any party responded, let alone objected, to what we said in our brief, confirming that we know the name of Petitioner’s counsel. After we filed our reply brief in the Supreme Court, we served the brief on both parties, and neither party said anything about keeping counsel’s name confidential. In fact, Petitioner’s counsel even responded to us, confirming receipt of our papers.
“Given these circumstances, we believe that there are no restrictions on us and that it is appropriate for us to confirm that, based on the events described above, the identity of Petitioner’s counsel in the Supreme Court is Brian Boone of Alston & Bird.”
Boone has previously represented the Republican National Committee and US Chamber of Commerce in litigation, according to his firm biography.
He also represented three former attorneys general — including former attorney general Bill Barr, now President Donald Trump’s nominee to be attorney general — in a 2009 brief at the Supreme Court relating to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
That law, which relates to how and when foreign countries can be forced into proceedings in US courts, is front and center in the grand jury subpoena dispute.