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Judge Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional, Endangering Coverage For 20 Million


      This could be a blessing in disguise. Since Democrats have regained control of the House, they can pass a universal single payer health insurance program to replace the ACA.

      I have maintained every since the ACA was enacted that it was unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court actually ruled that the main part of it was unconstitutional in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, when the majority ruled that the government violated the Commerce Clause of the Constitution by requiring individuals to purchase a product from a private market. It was a strange ruling because the court upheld the individual mandate because it was a tax, and Congress has the constitutional power to impose taxes.

      The inconsistency of the ruling is that the court essentially said that the government had the power to impose a tax on something that the same court ruled was unconstitutional.

      I think Roberts' intent was to send the law back to Congress to pass as a tax, which the only way to do so is to enact a universal single payer plan. It appears that no one in Washington D.C., Democrat or republican, understood what Roberts was trying to do.

      Now, we are left with no other option. Yes, we can challenge the current ruling of the lower court in Texas, but the safe thing to do is for a Democratic House to pass a universal single payer law, and challenge Mitch McConnell to kill it in the Senate, which would make 2020 even more likely that Democrats will take control of the Senate and the White House.


      A federal judge in Texas threw the health coverage of some 20 million Americans in limbo by ruling Obamacare must be scrapped because Congress struck the penalty for failing to obtain insurance coverage.

      The invalidation of the landmark 2010 law is certain to send shock waves through the U.S. health system and Washington after a midterm election seen in part as a rebuke to Republican efforts to tear down Obamacare.

      “Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas,” President Donald Trump wrote in a tweet celebrating the verdict. “Great news for America!”

      The decision will be immediately appealed, said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led several blue states in intervening to defend the ACA. It could ultimately become the third major Obamacare case to be taken up by the Supreme Court, which has twice voted to uphold the law.

      U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee in Fort Worth, Texas, issued the decision gutting the law in response to a lawsuit from 20 conservative-led states that sought to have the Affordable Care Act tossed out. They successfully argued that the mandate penalty was a critical linchpin of the law and that without it, the entire frameworks is rendered unconstitutional.

      “In sum, the Individual Mandate ‘is so interwoven with [the ACA’s] regulations that they cannot be separated. None of them can stand,’” O’Connor wrote.

      The decision came a little more than 24 hours before the sign-up period for 2019 Obamacare coverage is set to close — and roughly a month after voters upset over Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace the ACA swept House Democrats back into the majority. O’Connor did not issue an injunction, leaving it unclear whether the Trump administration can continue to enforce the ACA in the near term. Obamacare enrollment will continue up to the Saturday deadline, administration officials said.

      "We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court. Pending the appeal process, the law remains in place,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

      Seema Verma, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who oversees Obamacare's insurance marketplaces, tweeted late Friday that Obamacare exchanges are still open for business and that open enrollment will continue. "There is no impact to current coverage or coverage in a 2019 plan," she wrote.

      Democrats late Friday decried the decision as reckless and urged an appeals court to overturn it, while also tying it to the GOP’s broader efforts to eliminate the ACA.

      “Republicans want to gut healthcare. It’s not a talking point, it’s not an exaggeration,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) tweeted on Friday. “For ideological reasons, and because many can’t stand that it’s named Obamacare, they are causing millions to feel anxiety and possibly suffer. Shame on them.”

      Republicans zeroed out the mandate penalty as part of their 2017 overhaul of the tax code, after failing throughout last year to repeal and replace the ACA in full. The penalty is slated to disappear next year.

      The ruling puts the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers in a bind. They've promised to save the health law's pre-existing condition protections if the court threw them out, but for years they've been unable to agree on an alternative that would maintain the law's stringent safeguards.

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      Pundit Post

      Texas Judge Strikes Down Obama’s Affordable Care Act As Unconstitutional


          I couldn't believe what I was reading a few minutes ago on my news feed.

          With wages stagnant for 19 years now, and employers either cutting health care coverage as a benefit or reducing hours such that they aren't required to provide any benefits at all, with health care costs skyrocketing thanks to the fact that roughly 36% of every health care dollar in this country is paid straight to private insurance companies, how are average workers, much less low wage workers, ever supposed to afford health care in America?

          And wouldn't you know it would be a judge in Texas who just trashed health care for 10s of millions of Americans - just before Christmas.

          As of today, health care has just been returned to being a status symbol in this country. Shame on Republicans for denying basic human rights to the people they ask to vote for them.

          2020 won't come soon enough for too many Americans.

          Texas Judge Strikes Down Obama’s Affordable Care Act as Unconstitutional

          WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Texas struck down the entire Affordable Care Act on Friday on the grounds that its mandate requiring people to buy health insurance is unconstitutional and the rest of the law cannot stand without it.

          The ruling was over a lawsuit filed this year by a group of Republican governors and state attorneys general. A group of intervening states led by Democrats promised to appeal the decision, which will most likely not have any immediate effect. But it will almost certainly make its way to the Supreme Court, threatening the survival of the landmark health law and, with it, health coverage for millions of Americans, protections for people with pre-existing conditions and much more.

          In his ruling, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth said that the individual mandate requiring people to have health insurance “can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s tax power.”

          Accordingly, Judge O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, said that “the individual mandate is unconstitutional” and the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act are invalid.

          At issue was whether the health law’s insurance mandate still compelled people to buy coverage after Congress reduced the penalty to zero dollars as part of the tax overhaul that President Trump signed last December.

          When the Supreme Court upheld the mandate as constitutional in 2012, it was based on Congress’s taxing power. Congress, the court said, could legally impose a tax penalty on people who do not have health insurance.

          But in the new case, the plaintiffs, led by Texas, argued that with the penalty zeroed out, the individual mandate had become unconstitutional — and that the rest of the law could not be severed from it.

          The Justice Department’s response to the case was highly unusual: though it disagreed with the plaintiffs that the entire law should be struck down, it declined this year to defend not just the individual mandate, but the law’s provisions that protect people with pre-existing conditions. That prompted a coalition of 16 states and the District of Columbia, led by California, to intervene and defend the law.

          On Friday night, a spokeswoman for Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general, said California and the other defendant states would challenge the ruling with an appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.

          “Today’s ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the A.C.A.’s consumer protections for health care, on America’s faithful progress toward affordable health care for all Americans,” Mr. Becerra said in a statement. “The A.C.A. has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court.”

          Mr. Trump, who has consistently sought the law’s repeal and has weakened it through regulatory changes, posted a response to the ruling on Twitter late Friday night: “As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions.”


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              Can Trump effectively shut the government down without Congress? No. Congress is constitutionally responsible for funding the government. If Congress passes a budget or a CR, the president can either sign it into to law, veto it or don't do anything, in which case the bill becomes law.

              If the president vetoes a bill, Congress can override the veto or let it stand, so Trump can only shut the government down if the lame duck republican Congress allows him to do so. After January 3, 2019 he will only have the help of the republican Senate to help him screw up the government.

              The current CR expires on December 21, 2018, Next Friday.


              What is a shutdown?

              A government shutdown is when Congress doesn’t approve a federal budget for the upcoming fiscal year and nonessential functions of the U.S. government close until lawmakers can agree on a budget.


              President Trump pledged Thursday to do “whatever it takes to get border security,” deepening an impasse over border wall funding barely a week from a crucial deadline for a partial government shutdown to begin.

              In a video posted on Twitter, Trump attacked Democrats as “absolute hypocrites” and claimed they’ve supported funding border barriers in the past but won’t do so now because of their opposition to him.

              The video showed images of people rushing the border and included clips of Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and former president Barack Obama speaking in opposition to illegal immigration and in favor of border security.

              “We need to have the wall. We need border security. Whatever it takes to get border security, I will do it,” Trump says in the video. “I pledged that a long time ago, and I will pledge it always

              The video had a caption saying “Let’s not do a shutdown, Democrats — do what’s right for the American People!”

              The video came two days after Trump declared during an Oval Office meeting with Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he would be “proud” to shut down the government to get the wall money he wants.

              Since then, Democrats have attacked him relentlessly on the issue, with Schumer repeatedly accusing the president of throwing a “temper tantrum” as he threatens to lead the government into a partial shutdown in pursuit of what critics say is a costly and unnecessary wall.

              Trump is demanding $5 billion for his border wall for 2019, while Democrats are unwilling to give him more than $1.3 billion for border fencing. Democrats said Thursday that they won’t budge.

              “President Trump is willing to throw a temper tantrum and shut down the government unless he gets his way,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “I want to be crystal clear: There will be no additional appropriations to pay for the border wall. It’s done.”

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              A Russian Spy Novel By Vladimir Putin

              We have taken back to covert Cold War days with Russian misinformation and covert ops being used as if it were still the Cold War, complete with the old KGB man Putin. The CIA used some of these same tactics before in Operation Mockingbird back in the days when Russia was our Cold War enemy......oh wait, they still are! https://ahtribune.com/us/fake-news/2097-cia-disinf...

              In a profound way, nothing's changed, except now our leader of the Free World doesn't care and isn't interested in counter espionage measures. He wants to buddy up and praise and pander to this spymaster. Funny I have just finished reading Ride A Pale Horse by Helen MacInnes, and everything in it was so familiar and a parallel to the type of goings on happening today. There is an old saying Dr Phil uses, "We teach people how to treat us." We taught the Russians how to treat us during Operation CHAOS, we used journalists to spread false information to thwart communism, now they are using it to thwart Democracy, thumbing their nose and murdering journalists along with the Saudis. Anyone who is aiding and abetting the enemy should be in prison. Some are already being indicted, others are running this country toward Cold War fascism and REAL dictatorship. We must put a stop to it and urge our leaders to indict and jail all perpeTRAITORS!

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              The GOP Is Spending Its Last Gasps On .... Hillary Clinton




              Intelligent, educated, and sane humans may wonder if the GOP has collectively lost all sense and sensibilites, but nonetheless, the Republican majority has decided to spend their last controlling days obsessing about Hillary Rodham Clinton. THIS IS NOT SATIRE.

              Republicans have gathered up a bunch of conspiracy theorists and others who are in on this weird display of insanity, but no one is coming up with anything to make this latest gasp of "but Hillary" have an ounce of merit.

              It looks like a shabby and pitiful end for the parting controllers to use this time to continue to try with all their might to find something to make Secretary Clinton guilty of something.

              Dana Milbank gives us this opinion piece from the Washington Post.


              Republicans, in the waning hours of their eight-year reign in the House, are using this precious time to do what they love best: investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails.

              The House Oversight Committee had one last item on this year’s calendar — a hearingThursday on the Clinton Foundation. But it didn’t stop there! Republicans and their witnesses used the hearing to reprise their greatest hits: her email server, Benghazi, George Soros, Sidney Blumenthal, Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, James B. Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, IRS targeting the tea party, Uranium One and a QAnon conspiracy about the Justice Department swooping into Little Rock to seize Clinton documents.

              Image result for Clinton emails pictures

              Even the lock-her-up Trump administration had tired of these proceedings. The Justice Department — under the command of Trump loyalist and former hot-tub promoter Matthew G. Whitaker — refused to testify (leading one witness to suggest the administration had joined the cover up), and the IRS also sent regrets.

              Instead, Republicans summoned conspiracy theorists, including “investigators” poised to make money as tipsters if the IRS brings a Clinton Foundation case. But even these witnesses refused to provide documents supporting their dubious claims.

              “If you’re not going to share the information with this committee . . . my patience is running out,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), recently on the short list to be President Trump’s next chief of staff.

              “Are you going to prosecute the Clintons?” one witness, John Moynihan, replied. “I don’t think you are.”

              Don’t get cute with me!” Meadows returned.

              It was an ignominious end for a Republican majority that spent years in a vain quest to prove the guilt of Clinton and former president Barack Obama. But what they lack in evidence, they have in chutzpah. “It looks like what they’re going to focus on is just more investigations,” incoming House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Monday of the Democrats. “I think America is too great of a nation to have such a small agenda.”

              Rep. Meadows.

              This same McCarthy was denied the speakership a few years ago when he boasted: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today?”

              If investigations are the mark of a “small agenda” unbefitting a “great nation,” the Republican majority should have governed Liechtenstein.

              On Dec. 7, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee hauled in former FBI director Comey to talk more about Hillary’s emails. They plan to bring in former attorney general Loretta E. Lynch and bring back Comey for more private interviews about the same. This all follows scores of probes into the Benghazi attacks, Planned Parenthood (each merited a select committee), IRS targeting, Operation Fast and Furious, Clinton’s emails, Solyndra, Obamacare and more. In the first three years of GOP control, the oversight chairman issued more subpoenas (96) than had been issued in the previous eight years.

              And now, this coda: On Thursday, unable to get the administration’s cooperation, the oversight committee brought in Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, whose investigations director was banned from Fox News after alleging the “Soros-occupied State Department” funded the migrant caravan. Later came Moynihan, who employs the man behind the false allegation in 2008 that a tape had Michelle Obama disparaging “whitey,” and who in 2013 used doctored audio to declare John F. Kerry a rapist.

              On Thursday, Moynihan repeated a conspiracy theory that the Justice Department had “brought a 757 down and taken all the materials out of the Clinton Foundation in Little Rock.” (The FBI cited an unrelated drug-trafficking operation.)

              Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (Va.), top Democrat on the subcommittee conducting the oversight hearing, asked why the panel, instead of examining what landed Michael Cohen a prison sentence or New York’s fraud prosecution of the Trump Foundation, was “regifting” its frustrated anti-Clinton efforts. Even the Trump administration, he surmised, has decided “there’s no there there.”

              Image result for pictures of Gerald Connolly

              Rep. Connolly

              The Republicans couldn’t get their own witnesses to document the allegations they made against the Clintons. “I feel like you’re using us for your own benefit,” Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) told Moynihan.

              “Excuse me, sir, you invited us,” Moynihan interjected.

              “But you didn’t turn over the documents,” Hice protested.

              “Then disinvite us,” Moynihan proposed.

              Behind the Republicans on the dais, in a painting, a young Abraham Lincoln looked concerned.

              Without new evidence or allegations, Republicans encouraged Fitton to speculate about the Clintons’ guilt. (Q: “Mr. Fitton, would you say that’s a quid pro quo?” A: “It certainly seems that way.”)

              “Quid pro quo: Had to look it up,” announced Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa). “It’s Latin for ‘something for something.’ ” There was laughter in the gallery at the 63-year-old legislator’s new discovery. But Blum did know this: “If it looks like a pig, if it sounds like a pig, and if it smells like a pig, it’s probably a pig. And I think based on what I read today, something smells here.”

              Yes, it does. But a House cleaning is coming.


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              Pundit Post

              NRA Ties To Russian Operatives Draw Growing Scrutiny From Congress

                  Why has the NRA cozyed up to Russia?.

                  Now that Maria Butina has plead guilty to conspiracy to forge a Kremlin bond with the NRA and U. S. conservatives to turn the election toward Trump, more focus is being directed toward the National Rifle Association due to the contacts she cultivated with them.

                  Some members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have become very suspicious of claims that the NRA have made that they didn't get any additional funds from the Russians.

                  The House Intelligence Committee, which will be chaired by California Rep. Adam Schiff, has plans to investigate “two major threads” regarding the NRA. "Those include whether Torshin and Butina were part of efforts to establish a backchannel to the Kremlin, and whether Russian money was flowing into the NRA for the purpose of supporting Trump’s election.

                  Mark Follman and Dan Friedman give us the report from Mother Jones today.


                  As questions mounted last spring about two Russian operatives with ties to the National Rifle Association who tried to cultivate the Trump presidential campaign, the NRA made a rare public disclosure: The gun group said it had received about $2,500 from Russian sources. That included a single contribution “of less than $1,000” from one of the operatives, Alexander Torshin—a high-level official from Vladimir Putin’s party who federal prosecutors say directed a conspiracy by Russian agent Maria Butina to influence American politics. The NRA said the money was dues for a “life membership” paid by Torshin, who years earlier had forged connections with NRA leaders.

                  After the United States sanctioned Torshin and other Russian officials in April, the NRA reiterated in response to a Senate inquiry that Torshin had made no other contributions and was “not a member of any major donor program.”

                  But members of the Senate Intelligence Committee remain highly skeptical of NRA claims that the group did not receive additional funds from Torshin or other Russians. “We don’t believe them,” a Senate source told Mother Jones, noting the NRA gave Torshin the kind of VIP treatment typically reserved for big donors. The intelligence committee is one of two Senate committees with ongoing investigations into the possibility that additional Russian money flowed through the NRA. Two probes into NRA-Russia matters are also ramping up in the House as Democrats prepare to take control of the chamber in January.

                  Image result for Alexander Torshin picturesCenter: Alexander Torshin
                  The House Intelligence Committee, soon to be chaired by California Rep. Adam Schiff, plans to scrutinize “two major threads” regarding the NRA, a committee aide said. Those include whether Torshin and Butina were part of efforts to establish a backchannel to the Kremlin, and “whether Russian money was flowing into the NRA for the purpose of supporting Trump’s election.”

                  Butina, who was charged in July with conspiracy by federal prosecutors, finalized a plea deal and has agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. Investigators on Capitol Hill will be watching closely to see if she shares information contradicting any NRA claims in documents the group has provided to Congress, a second Senate source said.

                  As Mother Jones previously documented, Torshin cultivated ties with NRA leaders for years, attending six NRA annual conferences between 2011 and 2016. Now, additional photos we uncovered show Torshin hanging out with top NRA leaders both publicly and privately during the group’s annual conference held in Houston, Texas, in May 2013—including during lucrative fundraising events. Torshin posted the photos online around the time of the conference, though it is unclear who took them. They show Torshin at a gathering with NRA leaders in a hotel suite, at an NRA fundraising dinner and auction, and attending a ceremony for elite “Golden Ring of Freedom” donors giving at least $1 million, whose trappings include custom gold jackets and an NRA “liberty bell.”

                  Torshin with the NRA’s “liberty bell” in Houston in May 2013

                  Among other NRA leaders, Torshin is pictured in Houston with then-outgoing president and current board member David Keene, who traveled to Moscow later that fall and again in 2015 to attend events hosted by Butina’s own fledgling gun group, the Right to Bear Arms. Also appearing with Torshin in the Houston photos are incoming NRA president James W. Porter and then-NRA operations director Kyle Weaver, who worked under NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, as the Trace reported, including overseeing grassroots fundraising. Torshin also hobnobbed with top Ring of Freedom donor Joe Gregory and former Republican House Majority Leader and longtime NRA ally Tom DeLay.

                  Keene first became friendly with Torshin in 2011 at the NRA conference in Pittsburgh, and he hosted Torshin at the subsequent 2012 conference in St. Louis, where Torshin said in a tweet that he and two unidentified companions were treated as “guests of the highest level.” When Keene traveled to Moscow in fall 2013, he spoke enthusiastically at Butina’s gathering about the NRA and the Right to Bear Arms “working together,” noting that he had hosted Torshin over the past three years in the United States.

                  Among the high-profile speakers at that NRA 2013 conference in Houston was future Trump national security adviser John Bolton, who at the time served on the gun group’s international affairs subcommittee. At Keene’s request, Bolton recorded a video address that fall talking up gun rights, which was used by Butina’s group for lobbying in Russia.
                  Bolton’s security clearance is on the list of issues the House Oversight Committee expects to investigate next year, according to a committee staffer. The committee wants to know whether Bolton disclosed his role in the video used by Butina and any related contacts he might have had with foreign nationals.

                  It is legal for foreign citizens to donate to causes in the United States, but federal law bars them from directly or indirectly contributing money to US political campaigns. That includes a ban on donations to political action committees. According to a report by McClatchy in January, the FBI has been investigating whether Russian money flowed illegally through the NRA into the 2016 Trump campaign, which the NRA backed with at least $30 million.

                  From right: Torshin, DeLay, Keene, and Porter at the NRA conference in May 2013
                  The NRA did not respond to requests for comment.

                  According to NRA publications, the organization raised at least $1.7 million during the 2013 conference in Houston, including “a record $500,000” at the banquet and auction attended by Torshin. Soon thereafter, the NRA’s LaPierre hailed the gathering as “the biggest celebration of American values.” Torshin was presented with the gift of a rifle while there, according to a report in Rolling Stone. The Russian operative had also tweeted from report in Rolling Stone. The Russian operative had also tweeted from Houston that the NRA welcomed him with “thunderous applause.”

                  (Mother Jones and the Trace have teamed up to investigate the NRA’s finances and political activity. See more of our reporting.)


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                  Pundit Post

                  The Walls Come Tumbling Down


                      Federal prosecutors criminally investigating Donald Trump’s $107 million inauguration


                      Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are investigating Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

                      Citing “people familiar with the matter,” The Journal reports the criminal probe is misspent funds and “also is examining whether some of the committee’s top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions.”

                      Donations in exchange for favors could violate anti-corruption law.

                      The committee was registered as a nonprofit and spent a record $107 million dollars.

                      “In April raids of Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents obtained a recorded conversation between Mr. Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, who worked on the inaugural events,” The Journal reported. “In the recording, Ms. Wolkoff expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending money, according to a person familiar with the Cohen investigation.”

                      “The inaugural committee has publicly identified vendors accounting for $61 million of the $103 million it spent, and it hasn’t provided details on those expenses, according to tax filings,” The Journal added. “The committee raised more than double what former President Barack Obama’s first inaugural fund reported raising in 2009, the previous record. President Trump’s funds came largely from wealthy donors and corporations who gave $1 million or more—including casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, AT&T Inc. and Boeing Co. , according to Federal Election Commission filings.”

                      The federal government has a key cooperating witness in the investigation.

                      Rick Gates, Trump’s 2016 deputy campaign manager, served as deputy chairman of the inauguration.

                      Gates has been cooperating with federal prosecutors since a February plea deal.

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                      Mika Brzezinski Issues Another Regretful Statement About Her Mike Pompeo Slur


                          Open up mouth and switch out feet. This is what can happen when you are allowed to just say whatever you see fit. Eventually, you will say something very damaging. It will be interesting to see what the network does with Mika after others have been fired over moronic statements they have made.


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                          Mystery Mueller Mayhem At A Washington Court


                              Washington (CNN)Fridays at the DC federal courthouse are typically days of high alert for the press corps trying to discern what special counsel Robert Mueller's next legal action will be.

                              But this Friday, court officials went to extreme measures to ensure it was as difficult as possible to figure out what Mueller's team was doing as the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held a secret and mysterious argument about a grand jury subpoena challenge.
                              An entire floor of the courthouse was closed to the public and press for more than an hour. During that time, attorneys secretly entered the courthouse to argue before three federal appellate judges over a grand jury subpoena.
                              The mystery of the subpoena appeal appears to date back to early September, when CNN witnessed several lawyers from Mueller's office entering a courtroom to argue against an unknown defense team before a trial-level judge who oversees federal grand jury-related cases.
                              Clearly, a challenge related to Mueller's grand jury investigation was underway.
                              Shortly after, that judge, Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the DC District Court, ruled on a case related to a grand jury subpoena, and the losing party attempted to appeal the ruling. The appellate court batted the case back down to Howell, who held a second sealed hearing on October 5. Though CNN was locked out of the courtroom while the arguments took place, the hearing featured the same team from Mueller's office as before, which included top criminal law appellate lawyer Michael Dreeben.
                              Mueller's office declined to comment on the hearings.
                              That same day Mueller's team clashed in a sealed courtroom with an unknown opponent, Howell issued another ruling on the same grand jury subpoena challenge she had decided before, sending the losing party back to the appellate court to ask for reconsideration.
                              Politico a few days later overheard an attorney at the appellate court discussing sealed Mueller court filings -- and the mysterious grand jury challenge got its argument date set before a three-judge panel at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
                              Argument day arrived Friday.
                              Typically, DC Circuit Court arguments run smoothly, one after another until three cases have been argued publicly, starting at 9:30 am in a large, portrait-lined courtroom on the Fifth Floor of the federal courthouse on Constitution Avenue. But after Circuit judges David Tatel, Thomas Griffith and Stephen William -- who coincidentally has written two books on Russian history -- heard an immigration-related case Friday morning, the courthouse security went into lockdown mode.
                              Tatel, Griffith and Williams took a brief recess, indicating they'd return to the courtroom shortly.
                              Then, security officers cleared the appeals courtroom, allowing only about a dozen law clerks working for federal judges to stay behind, including at least one who assists Howell with her cases.
                              Security guards also cleared the vestibule to the courtroom and checked the coat closet where attorneys coming to listen to arguments stash their belongings. They locked the door leading to the attorneys' lounge on that floor and shooed the more than 20 reporters prowling the hall away from the elevator bank and told them to vacate the nearby stairwells. At one point, even an elevator wouldn't open its doors on the fifth floor.
                              The entire level of the building on which the appeals court is housed was locked down.
                              For more than an hour, the press waited, staking out stairwells and exits. The gaggle of law clerks dispersed about an hour after the arguments started, and then silence. No recognizable attorneys were spotted coming in and out of the courtroom or even the building.
                              No sign that it was Mueller's office. No sign of defense counsel. The courthouse security had ushered the lawyers into and out of the building for their secret hearing completely under cover. The sealed hearing stayed confidential.
                              And then, about 10 minutes after the court activity appeared to wrap for the day, a black Justice Department car rolled into Mueller's office building, bringing attorneys including Dreeben and Zainab Ahmad back to their home base.

                              It's important to note also that Mueller has a live press release today. So who is the mystery person? I believe it is Trump. I believe he got served for questioning and he is fighting it.


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