Trump Judge Dismisses Russian Firm's Latest Challenge to Mueller Charges

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich in July 2017 at her confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / National Law Journal

A federal judge on Thursday refused to allow a Russian firm to escape charges it conspired to sow discord in the U.S. electorate leading up to the 2016 election, marking the second time the company lost a challenge to allegations brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump appointee who took the bench in December, rejected Concord Management and Consulting's argument that the special counsel had failed to allege a conspiracy violating federal law. The Russian firm's defense lawyers at Reed Smith LLP had attacked the indictment as charging the "make believe" crime of interfering in an election.

"Concord argues that the alleged failures to report or register cannot be considered, either because they are not identified with enough specificity in the indictment or because they would ordinarily only support criminal penalties if done 'willfully.' Both arguments are unpersuasive," Friedrich wrote.

Friedrich had previously denied Concord's challenge to Mueller's appointment and his authority to prosecute the Russian firm. In August, she ruled Mueller's appointment did not violate separation-of-powers principles and that the special counsel had not exceeded its authority by investigating and bringing charges against Concord.

Concord was among 16 Russian firms and individuals charged in February with taking steps to evade U.S. authorities tasked with rooting out foreign participation in the American political process. Special counsel prosecutors alleged that, as part of their effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, the Russians took steps to avoid disclosures of campaign-related spending and other political activity in the United States.

So far, Concord is the only one of the 16 Russian defendants that has answered to the special counsel's charges in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Concord contended that the special counsel brought the conspiracy charge in an unconstitutionally vague manner, an argument Friedrich struck down in her decision Thursday.

"First, the indictment need not provide a detailed account of the manner and means the defendants used in accomplishing the object of the conspiracy," Friedrich wrote. "The indictment alleges that the defendants agreed to a course of conduct that would violate FECA and FARA's disclosure requirements and provides specific examples of the kinds of expenditures and activities that required disclosure," she wrote, referring to a pair of federal laws-Federal Election Campaign Act and the Foreign Agents Registration Act-requiring disclosure of political activity. Friedrich added: "At this stage, that is more than enough."

The special counsel's Russia investigations are ongoing. Prosecutors told a Washington judge on Wednesday that a cooperating witness, Richard Gates, a former Trump campaign official and business associate of Paul Manafort, is continuing to cooperate. No sentencing date is set. Former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn is also awaiting sentencing in Washington federal court.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is weighing a challenge to the lawfulness of Mueller's appointment. The court heard arguments last week from a grand jury witness who is fighting a subpoena.

Friedrich's ruling is posted below:

falcon-embed src="embed_1"

Read more:

DOJ Fights Claims Mueller's Probe Is Out of Control

Meet Matt Whitaker, the Acting Attorney General and Mueller Critic

DC Judge Tees Up Proof Questions in Mueller's Russian Troll Farm Case

How Law Firms Are Protecting Sensitive Information in Russia Cases

Russian Company Charged by Mueller Loses Bid to Dismiss Charges

More Related News

AP source: Mueller report not expected next week
AP source: Mueller report not expected next week

Special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation is not expected to be delivered to the Justice Department next week, a senior department official told The Associated Press on Friday. It was not immediately clear when the report might come, though Mueller is showing signs of concluding

The Latest: Trump again denies collusion as report nears
The Latest: Trump again denies collusion as report nears

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on the special counsel's Russia investigation (all times local):

Former Trump campaign chief Manafort to be sentenced March 8
Former Trump campaign chief Manafort to be sentenced March 8
  • US
  • 2019-02-21 18:03:16Z

Manafort, 69, could spend the rest of his life in prison for charges stemming from his work as an international political consultant and lobbyist. Mueller is urging a federal judge in Virginia to impose a prison sentence of up to 24 years and a fine of up to $24 million, after a jury found Manafort guilty of trying to hide millions of dollars he earned as a consultant for pro-Russian leaders in Ukraine, and lying to banks to secure loans to fund his lavish lifestyle after that income dried up. Manafort is also due to be sentenced on March 13 in a parallel federal case in Washington.

Ex-FBI deputy: Rosenstein cited two people who might have pursued Trump ouster
Ex-FBI deputy: Rosenstein cited two people who might have pursued Trump ouster

McCabe, speaking to reporters to promote his book "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terrorism and Trump," said he could not recall which two Cabinet members Rosenstein mentioned without access to memos of the 2017 conversation. "I at no time got the impression that he had actually sought support or talked to those people about it," McCabe said. "It was simply Rod thinking off the top of his head - this is a thing that could be done." In September the New York Times reported that John Kelly, who served as Trump's chief of staff, and Jeff Sessions, who Trump dismissed as attorney general, might be persuaded to invoke the 25th Amendment.

Trump: Release of Russia probe report up to attorney general
Trump: Release of Russia probe report up to attorney general

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the newly confirmed US attorney general should be the person who decides whether to publicly release the much-anticipated Russia report, which could be completed as early as next week. The remarks came as CNN reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has headed the probe since May 2017, could deliver his final report next week, possibly when Trump travels to Asia for his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Asked at the White House whether Mueller should release the text while the president is out of the country, a subdued Trump said "that will be totally up to the new attorney general," Bill Barr.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Economy

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.