Accused Supporter of Russian Troll Farm Readies Defense

WASHINGTON (CN) – A Russian company said Friday it has four courses of attack ready to contest the charge that it funded pro-Donald Trump troll farms during the 2016 election.

Nearly four months since special counsel Robert Mueller indicted it along with two other companies and 13 Russian nationals, Concord Management and Consulting LLC to date has been the only entity to respond to the charges. Over the next four months, Concord revealed Friday, it will file a motion to dismiss and a motion for selective prosecution, as well as separate challenges to Mueller’s authority and the grand jury instructions.

Concord presented a staggered timeline for the proposed motions in a joint briefing schedule filed early Friday afternoon in conjunction with prosecutor Jeannie Rhee.

The Russian firm, represented by Eric Dubelier and Katherine Seikaly with Washington-based Reed Smith, will challenge Mueller’s authority first. That motion is due by July 16, with the others to follow in August and September. The government will have about a month to respond to each motion.

Dubelier had indicated during a May 16 hearing that Concord would aggressively challenge the indictment, which consists of a single charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Late Friday, Mueller responded to Concord’s bid for a courtroom review of the grand jury instructions. In a 12-page response, prosecutors said Concord hasn’t shown it any “particularized need” or “compelling necessity” to access the instructions.

Furthermore, Mueller’s team said Concord has been properly charged and circuit precedent bars its request to see the instructions.

Its move to challenge Mueller’s authority mirrors the tactic that proved unsuccessful for Paul Manafort in his criminal case, which Mueller is also prosecuting.

In the former Trump campaign manager’s case, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled on May 15 that Manafort can’t base a motion to dismiss on Department of Justice regulations that govern the special counsel.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump appointee, is presiding over the Concord case.

Concord and its two corporate co-defendants are all owned by individual defendant Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and caterer whose close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin earned him the nickname “Putin’s chef.”

The June 1 filing indicates that none of the four pretrial motions will depend on discovery. The next hearing in the case will take place on June 15.

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