Last week, Robert Mueller’s investigation suffered a major loss in court during its case concerning Paul Manafort and his alleged violations of the law. However, in a shocking turn of events, a second judge has handed the Mueller special investigation a loss, this time in the case against ‘Russian agents.’
On Friday, a federal judge rejected a request from Mueller’s special counsel to delay a hearing in the criminal case against three Russian companies and 13 Russian citizens accused of sowing discord in the country in advance of the 2016 election. This means the trial against the alleged ‘troll farm’ will continue speedily, rather than being arbitrarily slowed by an unprepared or ill-equipped prosecution team, leading many people to believe that the ‘witch hunt’ is unraveling.
The order, released on Saturday evening, offered no explanation, and simply denied the prosecutor’s request to put off the Wednesday arraignment for one of three Russian businesses in the case, Concord Management and Consulting.
It’s a strange filing and an interesting denial of a simple request in a case that is filled with them.
When the special investigation filed charges against the defendants in the case, 13 people and three businesses, they fully expected that they would all ignore the criminal proceedings in the United States.
After all, Russia is not a country likely to extradite its citizens to face prosecution at the hands of a political show-trial, especially not one in the United States.
But just last month, a pair of Washington-area lawyers notified the court that they represented Concord Management’s interest in the case, and that they would be participating in the legal proceedings.
At the time, legal experts and observers suggested that the reason Concord Management sent representatives was to force the Mueller investigation to provide information on what sort of evidence it has, or perhaps to even force the prosecutors into dismissing the charges rather than reveal allegedly ‘sensitive’ information that could impact other cases.
This certainly seems like what has happened, given that the attorneys representing CM have filed multiple discovery requests and that, according to the ‘special investigation,’ they repeatedly made demands for ‘nonpublic’ information.
However, if these attorneys are to provide an effective defense for Concord, it is likely that they will need that ‘nonpublic information’ one way or another. They cannot defend against claims they do not know are being made, after all, and they cannot confront evidence without having the evidence.
The special counselors sought for the delay they were denied on the basis that they could not ascertain whether or not the businesses and individuals summoned for the case actually received their summonses.
They said that it was unclear whether or not the defendants formally accepted the summonses for the case.
The prosecution team said that they sent the summonses by delivering them to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Russia, who they asked to deliver them to the defendants in the case.
However, the Office of the Prosecutor General declined to accept the summonses in the first place, and requests to the Russian government that they deliver them pursuant to a legal assistance treaty went repeatedly unheeded.
The Mueller investigative team sent a copy of the formal summons to the lawyers acting on behalf of Concord Management, and asked them to accept it on behalf of the Russian company.
The three companies listed in the lawsuit are allegedly owned by the same Russian businessman, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Prigozhin is known as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ‘chef,’ as well as being one of the 13 individuals criminally charged in the case by name.
According to Concord’s legal team, the Mueller investigation is abusing standard procedures and ignoring the court’s rules, instead opting to arbitrarily usurp the court schedule in what Concord’s lawyers termed ‘pettifoggery.’
The lawyers for Concord have a point, though. As they mentioned, their client has the right to a speedy trial, and allowing the Mueller legal team to arbitrarily slow down the discovery process and delay trial dates without any actual stated need would serve to undermine that right.
The special investigation claims that the accused mounted an ‘information warfare’ campaign against the United States during the 2016 election, and that the campaign was designed to impact the 2016 election cycle.
Once again, it seems like the Mueller investigation is nothing more than one long fishing expedition, and that they lack evidence to convict even those they claim were directly implicit in breaking the law.