A Russian company indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller on Thursday told a U.S. federal judge that Mueller and Attorney General Bill Barr should be held in criminal contempt over to the way the public version of Mueller’s report described the case against alleged Russian internet trolls.
Concord Management — a company ran by a Russian oligarch that is accused of funding the 2016 social media meddling — filed a motion seeking that Mueller and Barr be required to show cause why they shouldn’t be held in contempt.
The company is the only defendant in the case — which also charges the oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin himself — to lawyer up and fight the charges in court.
The filings by the company’s American legal team have typically been bombastic, sensational and, dare we say it, troll-y — so much so that Concord’s lawyer Eric Dubelier was once scolded by a judge after using a profane “Animal House” quote in one of his filings.
Thursday’s filing — while lacking the obscure pop cultural references that have been a trademark of Dubelier’s — takes the extraordinary step of, somewhat nonchalantly, seeking criminal contempt for America’s top law enforcement officer for allegedly violating a gag order in the case.
“Lawyers have been punished with criminal contempt for doing a lot less than what AG Barr and SC Mueller did here,” Concord Management said.
The company pointed specifically to local court rules prohibiting lawyers in a case from making public comments that could reasonably “interfere with a fair trial or otherwise prejudice the due administration of justice.”
The filing claims that Mueller, in his report, and Barr, in his comments about the report, have violated those rules in how they described the alleged social media trolling effort.
Among the remarks Concord Management takes issue with is a Barr statement explicitly connecting the trolling effort to the Russian government and to a separate indictment brought against Russians accused of hacking Democratic emails.
The company also bashes Mueller for describing in his report the allegations against the company as if they are undisputed fact.
“The practical effect of the broadside by AG Barr and SC Mueller on Concord was to advise the world (including potential jurors) that the allegations in the Indictment are true and that the Defendants in this case were operating as part of a Russian-government led interference campaign expressly linked to the allegations in United States v. Netyksho et al.,” Concord Management said, referring to the hacking indictment.
The filing additionally took a shot at the government over the ongoing legal battle over the sharing of discovery in the case. Prosecutors have sought to block Concord Management’s legal team from sharing the discovery the government is handing over with others, and particularly with Prigozhin.
“There is no small irony in the fact that for a year the government has successfully kept over 3.5 million pages of discovery in the case from Concord while at the same time determined it was appropriate to broadcast its unilateral and biased version of the evidence in the case to the public at large,” Thursday’s filing said.
The Justice Department, in the public Mueller report, redacted some aspects of the social media trolling investigation. But the bulk of those redactions had to do with concealing investigative techniques. The Justice Department did redact details relating to Roger Stone’s case to keep it in compliance with the gag order. The judge in that case, however, imposed a standalone gag order in addition to the local rules limiting certain public comments about the case. An equivalent standalone gag order was not imposed in the social media trolling case.
Read the Thursday’s Concord Management filing below: