Hmmm: Judge holds Stone associate in contempt for refusal to appear at grand jury

No, it’s not Kristin Davis, who showed up as scheduled to answer questions from Robert Mueller’s special-counsel prosecutors. Andrew Miller had tried to challenge Mueller’s standing to issue subpoenas at all, and lost that case a week ago when Judge Beryl Howell ruled that Mueller had the authority and standing to issue them. Miller, who worked for Stone during the campaign as a PR flack, no-showed the grand jury instead, earning the contempt citation:

A federal judge has found a witness in contempt for refusing to testify before the grand jury hearing evidence in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell made the ruling Friday after a sealed hearing to discuss Andrew Miller’s refusal to appear before the grand jury. Miller is a former aide to longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone.

Miller’s lawyer Paul Kamenar said after the hearing that Miller was “held in contempt, which we asked him to be in order for us to appeal the judge’s decision to the court of appeals.”

Howell stayed her order while Miller’s legal team appeals the judge’s decision.

Miller’s attorneys claim that they will take this all the way to the Supreme Court, but Howell’s line of reasoning looks pretty solid. Given that Congress has passed the special-counsel statute and that it resolves the issues that didn’t carry the day in Morrison, it looks like an easy lift for Mueller on appeal.

One has to wonder what Miller knows, and why he’s so intent on challenging the subpoena. Miller’s attorneys wanted a grant of immunity in exchange for Miller’s testimony. which sounds precisely like the kind of action that the special counsel would take. However, that immunity would have been limited to testimony regarding financial transactions for PACs associated with Stone. Miller’s attorneys insist that their client knows nothing about hacking, Wikileaks, or any other Russia-collusion issues and didn’t need immunity to cover those topics.

If that’s the case, then immunity for Miller would still be worthwhile if Stone is the target for Mueller. So why not offer him that before a subpoena? Mueller must think Miller has broader knowledge of the issues than the proffer and wants him on the record — or wants to use the subpoena to pry more information loose.

Whatever the case, it seems clear that if Miller didn’t have anything to offer, he wouldn’t be challenging the subpoena. Alternatively, without immunity, he could take the Fifth and still comply with it. The fact that he’s dragging his heels and fighting a losing battle over standing is mighty curious.

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David Strom 9:31 PM on December 05, 2022