Lawyers for a Russian company charged by special counsel Robert Mueller took their use of unexpected and borderline-inappropriate pop cultural references in court documents to a new extreme in a filing Friday that equated an argument being made by Mueller to an infamous quote from “Animal House.”
The lawyers for the company, Concord Management, showed that they have high cultural tastes as well in the filing, which also cited a 19th century letter from an English Catholic historian. Previous filings from the lawyers have also quoted Tweetie Bird and Casablanca.
This latest, perhaps most colorful swipe at Mueller comes as part of a complicated but nonetheless intriguing dispute over whether Mueller should have to explain where his team learned a piece of information that Concord Management believes may have been shared with prosecutors inappropriately.
Earlier this year, Mueller requested that the discovery shared with Concord Management’s legal team not be shared with anyone else, including the firm’s executive, a Kremlin-aligned oligarch who was also charged by Mueller.
Both the company and the oligarch, Yevgeny Prigozhin, were indicted in February along with other Russian officials for their alleged participation in 2016 election meddling via social media. Prigozhin hasn’t submitted to the court’s jurisdiction. But his company has lawyered up and is now fighting the charges aggressively in court.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich more or less granted Mueller’s protective order request and said that the firm’s legal team would need to get her permission to share discovery with Prigozhin or anyone else who that wasn’t allowed access in her protective order. To facilitate this process, she appointed a firewall counsel for Concord’s legal team to alert if it was seeking to share the materials. That firewall counsel, a DOJ lawyer not connected to Mueller’s investigation, would then alert the judge if the government had national security concerns about releasing the materials.
According to Concord Management, a week after the one and only time its lawyers communicated with the firewall counsel as part of that system, Mueller’s team took an unspecified “investigative action” that Concord believes was based on the confidential information it had provided the firewall counsel. The firewall counsel has denied communicating to the special counsel, so Concord Management is now requesting that the judge order Mueller to explain how his team learned of the information.
Mueller’s response in opposition to this order was filed under seal because he said it discussed a “matter occurring before the grand jury.” He also successfully obtained the judge’s permission to submit to her ex parte — meaning available only to the court and not the opposing party — additional information that Mueller says is “classified for reasons of national security.”
Concord Management’s latest filing takes Mueller to task for all the secrecy.
“For a Special Counsel who claims that secretly pretending to be someone you are not on the internet is a conspiracy against the United States, one might think that all of his proposed secrets in prosecuting this matter are a conspiracy to deny the Defendant its right to a fair, open and public determination of its case,” the company’s lawyers wrote.
Read the full filing below: