Russian Social Media Troll Case Heading Towards April 2020 Trial Date

ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - AUGUST 9, 2016: Concord Catering general director Yevgeny Prigozhin at a meeting of Russian and Turkish government officials and business leaders. Mikhail Metzel/TASS (Photo by Mikhail MetzelT... ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - AUGUST 9, 2016: Concord Catering general director Yevgeny Prigozhin at a meeting of Russian and Turkish government officials and business leaders. Mikhail Metzel/TASS (Photo by Mikhail MetzelTASS via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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August 20, 2019 11:15 a.m.
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The case special counsel Robert Mueller brought against a company accused of funding Russia’s election meddling on social media looks like it’s heading towards a April 2020 trial date.

Lawyers for the company Concord Management and prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich at a hearing on Tuesday that they were in agreement about the proposed schedule.

They said that they expected the trial to last about a month, though that estimate did not include jury selection.

The judge asked that they file a more detailed, pre-trial schedule proposal by the end of next week. She did not formally approve a April 2020 trial on date on Tuesday.

Concord Management — run by an executive so close to the Kremlin he’s known as “Putin’s chef” — is the only defendant among several in Mueller’s February 2018 social media indictment to show up in court to fight the charges. That executive, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was also named as an individual defendant in the indictment, but he has not personally submitted to the court’s jurisdiction.

Concord’s move to hire American lawyers to fight the case came as somewhat of a surprise.

Prosecution of the case has been taken over by lawyers from the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office and the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The case has been roiled by a protracted dispute over discovery, as the government resisted turning over certain materials to Prigozhin and other Russian individual because they said doing so posed a national security risk.

At the hearing Tuesday, prosecutor Jonathan Kravis and Concord lawyer Eric Dubelier said they were close to finalizing a new protective order proposal that would allow some access to certain discovery for individuals in Russia. They will be filing that proposal this Friday.

While past proceedings have at times gotten testy, with Dubelier getting into heated exchanges with prosecutors and the judge herself, he and Kravis both noted that negotiations over the scheduling had been going more smoothly.

“I am in agreement with [Dubelier] — for once,” Kravis said.

After the forty minute public hearing the courtroom was cleared out for a sealed proceeding having to do with the firewall counsel who has been tasked with helping to negotiate discovery issues. That proceeding lasted about 10 minutes.

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