The Russian consulting firm indicted by former special counsel Robert Mueller wants an April 2020 court date to answer the charges, which would come as the presidential election is reaching its heights.
Concord Management and Consulting LLC, is accused of financing an army of internet trolls to influence the 2016 election in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump.
But in a motion filed Monday in court, Concord that argued it spent less than $5,000 on candidate ads and rallies that would be subject to government auditing, according to The Washington Times.
The cost figures cited by Concord, which include $2,930 on campaign ads plus $1,800 for payroll during the 2016 election, are based on evidence from U.S. prosecutors, the newspaper noted.
Concord was one of three business entities and 13 Russian nationals indicted by Mueller in February 2018 for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and was the only firm to actually show up in court to challenge the charge.
More on the indictment from the Times:
Concord is charged with failing to file with the Federal Election Commission. The firm says some of the online ads listed in an indictment brought by special counsel Robert Mueller cost less than $10 each and added up to $2,930. Conjured-up rallies cost another $1,833 in payroll.
The 2018 indictment accuses Concord of funding the Internet Research Agency. That is the Russian troll farm in St. Petersburg that bought the internet ads, did social media spoofing and set up rallies against candidate Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump.
Concord attorney Eric Dubelier used the terms “misleading” and “demonstrably false” in disputing the allegations.
“The allegation in the Indictment claiming that IRA spent thousands of dollars each month to purchase advertisements is at best misleading and at worst demonstrably false because the discovery indicates that many of the advertisements took place after the 2016 presidential election or did not involve any clearly identifiable candidate,” Dubelier argued in the filing.
The company takes issue with the U.S. government failing to identify which of its employees violated FEC laws, as only Yevgeny Prigozhin, a partial owner, is named.
Prigozhin, a food service mogul, is known as “Putin’s chef” because of close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This means that the responsible conspirator would have had to know that of the millions of rubles equating to hundreds of thousands of dollars of Concord’s money allegedly spent by IRA, at worst approximately $2,900 were spent for advertisements and $1,800 were spent for rallies that the FEC could possibly conclude were independent expenditures for express advocacy,” Dubelier said.
As Politico reported, the trial would test Mueller’s allegations that the Russian firm “financed and organized an army of internet trolls to try and sow discord in the U.S. and sway the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.”
This being about one of the few links Mueller produced that Democrats readily refer to.
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