Robert Mueller’s special investigation recently entered its second year, and has still failed to produce a single charge related to allegations of collusion with Russian and its government. However, early in the investigation, he and his legal team did score 16 indictments; 13 against Russian individuals, and three against Russian businesses.
When the first of those indictments were challenged in court, however, it fell apart. Now, the special investigator has filed motions to delay the trials indefinitely, which is strange considering how confident he appeared in the indictments before. This second request for a delay, along with the legal games the special prosecutors are playing in federal court, suggests that they have no confidence in their evidence, if they have any at all.
It appears these sixteen charges were nothing more than a publicity stunt in front of the media, and the investigation never intended to substantiate their claims at all.
On Tuesday, Mueller again asked a federal judge to reject a law that has been in place for more than 40 years in the case he brought against 16 Russian entities. He asked, yet again, that a federal court ignore the ‘Speedy Trial Act.’
The Speedy Trial Act is a federal law that states a federal criminal case must begin within 70 days of the date of indictment.
Last time the special investigator demanded the law be ignored, it was rejected without comment by federal Judge Dabney Friedrich.
In his court filing on Tuesday, Mueller said that the federal government needed additional time due to the ‘complexity’ of the case.
To paraphrase his filing, he stated that district courts are able to, upon request from an involved party, grant an “excludable continuance” if doing so is in the best interest of the public.
He continued on to say that there was a “voluminous” discovery issue at stake, and that the court needed to resolve a number of procedural issues that were ‘unique’ to this case.
According to former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, however, it was too late for him to claim that the ‘complexity’ of the case required a delay.
He pointed out that the law says the right to a speedy trial belongs to the defendant, not the prosecution. If the defendant wants a trial within 70 days, the government has no right or cause to complain.
The government actor (in this case, the special investigation), had every chance in the world to take their time in seeking indictments. They controlled the tempo of the investigation and the indictment process.
They chose to rush 16 indictments through, likely as part of a public relations maneuver to show that the investigation was producing some sort of evidence of ‘Russian collusion.’
When they issued these charges, that signaled to the courts (and the accused) that the government was ready to proceed with a court case against the indicted.
It’s likely that when Mueller’s team filed the indictments against the Russian individuals and organizations on February 16, he believed that none of them would ever go to trial.
After all, there is nothing that the United States can do to force them to show up for these criminal trials. At worst, they could simply have the individuals arrested if they ever go to a country with an extradition agreement, and bar the businesses from operating in America.
McCarthy himself pointed out that the charges were nothing but political theater.
Just over two weeks ago, Eric Dubelier, a partner at the firm, entered a not guilty plea in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He also filed motions for discovery, and asserted his client’s interest in a speedy trial.
He also demanded the jury instructions given to the grand jury that produced the indictment. Dubelier noted that there was no mention in the charging documents of appropriate mens rea behind the crime, which is necessary for the claims made against the Russian company.
He even pointed out that there was no specificity to the document, which simply said that Concord Management committed a crime. The document made no mention of who, or what group of people within the company, committed any sort of illegal activity.
Last week, the special prosecutor responded to the motion, and said he was prepared to offer two terabytes of information from Russian social media into the court’s record.
It doesn’t seem like Mueller was complying with the perfectly legal and reasonable request for discovery; instead, he seemed to be intent on flooding the docket with a huge amount of evidence, almost all of which was written in Russian.
McCarthy pointed out that this move was an attempt to “manufacture complexity” where none necessarily existed, and that it was simply a delaying tactic, hoping to chew into the defendant’s resources.
He added that such dishonest tactics are “apt to make the presiding judge very angry.”
It seems like all the negative things people said about Mueller’s indictments turned out to be true. According to his own court filings, it appears that even the special prosecutor himself is admitting that he rushed to file charges without having completed his investigation.
Hopefully, this results in these 16 farcical indictments being thrown out. If the special investigator, who was the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, cannot understand how to properly indict people, it’s time to shut this special investigation down.
Just because Mueller did a bad job in completing his own task, that does not mean that the law should bend to accommodate him. Laws exist for a reason, and that reason is not to make life easier for the federal government.