Special counsel Robert Mueller won’t have to explain to a Russian company where he got information he used to take an unspecified “investigative action” — information that the company Concord Management had suggested was inappropriately obtained.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich on Friday denied the request for an explanation by Concord, which believed the action could have been based on information it had shared with a DOJ lawyer that’s not supposed to be working with Mueller’s team.
The issue was part of a series of discovery-related disputes in the case, where Concord is accused of funding Russia’s social media meddling in the 2016 election. At a hearing this week, Concord’s American lawyers were publicly dressed down by the judge for court filings they submitted in the disputes, including one that cited an obscene quote from “Animal House” to bash Mueller.
The request Friedrich denied Friday had to do with information that Concord Management provided the so-called firewall counsel, a DOJ lawyer separate from Mueller’s team appointed by the judge to help sort out discovery issues. Mueller’s team has sought to block Concord’s American legal team from sharing discovery with outside individuals, including the company’s executive, Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin. The oligarch was also charged by Mueller but has not submitted to the court’s jurisdiction. The firewall counsel is supposed to weigh in if the material that Concord’s lawyers are looking to share with those outside their team poses a national security risk.
Concord alleged that a week after it provided certain information to the counsel in August, Mueller’s team took an “investigative action” that appeared based on the information. The firewall counsel said he didn’t share the information, but Mueller wouldn’t tell Concord where it received the information then, prompting Concord’s request to the court.
Friedrich, in her brief order Friday issued after a closed-door hearing about the dispute, said that she denied based on the hearing, as well as on a filing Mueller’s team hand-delivered to her ex parte, meaning Concord’s lawyers didn’t get to read it. Concord also vehemently opposed Mueller being allowed to submit the filing ex parte.