Ham sandwich bites back! Indicted Russian company asks judge to dismiss Mueller’s ‘make-believe’ charges

DCNFChris White, DCNF

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

One of the Russian companies special counsel Robert Mueller accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election is asking a federal judge to determine if he is engaging in a sham criminal case.

Foreign interference in the presidential election is a “make-believe crime,” Concord Management and Consulting said in a court filing Monday. The company argues the case is an example of Mueller attempting to “justify his own existence” by indicting “a Russian — any Russian.”

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has “rejected the history and integrity of the DOJ and instead licensed a Special Counsel who for all practical political purposes cannot be fired, to indict a case that has absolutely nothing to do with any links or coordination between any candidate and the Russian Government,” Concord wrote in the court filing.

Concord’s lawyers also petitioned the judge to review the instructions Mueller’s team gave the grand jury in securing the indictment.

The company is the only one among three Russian companies Mueller indicted in February that has responded to the charges in court. Concord Management pleaded not guilty to a conspiracy charge related to creating a so-called troll farm to goad people into voting for President Donald Trump. Mueller has been unable to reach the other defendants in the case — most of which reside overseas.

Mueller’s team must prove Concord purposely disrupted the functioning of the Federal Election Commission and was aware of the illegality of their actions, attorneys argue. The company’s lawyers attached an indictment from 1998 against a California fundraiser accused of disguising contributions to the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign. One of the lawyers who worked the case is now the judge presiding over Mueller’s charges.

Concord Management, Internet Research Agency and Concord Catering enacted a so-called “translator project,” which began in April 2014 and employed hundreds of Russian operatives tasked with using fictitious online personas to sow discord on social media platforms, Mueller’s indictment asserts.

The goal of the project was “information warfare against the United States of America,” the indictment asserts. The scheme involved intelligence gathering activities inside the U.S. as well as interactions with U.S. political activists. Concord’s goal was ultimately to tilt the election away from former Secretary Hillary Clinton and toward Trump, according to the indictment.

The operation advanced in several stages over the two-plus years leading up to the election. Many of the efforts were aimed at hurting Hillary Clinton’s election chances by boosting her opponents, including Trump, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, the indictment suggests.

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