WASHINGTON (CN) – One of the three Russian companies charged with interfering in the 2016 presidential election asked a federal judge Monday to privately review the grand jury instructions.
In a 9-page motion, Concord Management and Consulting LLC says it wants to know whether the instructions could support dismissal of the single conspiracy count that the company faces from special counsel Robert Mueller.
“To justify his own existence the Special Counsel has to indict a Russian – any Russian,” the motion signed by Reed Smith attorney Eric Dubelier states.
Concord Management and Consulting is owned by Russian oligarch and caterer Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s chef” for his ties to the Russian president.
The company is one of two Prigozhin-owned entities that Muller has accused of funding the Russian troll farms that disrupted the presidential election in 2016.
Concord’s indictment accuses it of conspiring to defraud the United States by failing to register as a foreign agent and make required disclosures to the Federal Election Commission. It is also charged with making false statements to obtain fraudulent visas.
The company asserts in its motion Monday meanwhile that Mueller must be held to the same bar as the Campaign Task Force, a component of the Department of Justice that handled all prior investigations of foreign involvement in U.S. elections since its creation in 1997 by former Attorney General Janet Reno.
Dubelier says Mueller’s case is unlike any brought by the Justice Department: “that is, an alleged conspiracy by a foreign corporation to ‘interfere’ in a presidential election by allegedly funding free speech.”
“The obvious reason for this,” Dubelier continues, “is that no such crime exists in the federal criminal code.”
The Office of Special Counsel declined to comment on the motion.
Calling conspiracy to interfere in a U.S. election a “make-believe crime,” Concord says the indictment fails to accuse the company of acting willfully, which it claims is a necessary requirement to bring the charge. Because of that, Concord claims the charge is invalid.
“Count One of the Indictment is devoid of any specificity about what any officer or employee of Concord actually did other than to generally allege that Concord funded an ‘Organization’ that the Special Counsel imagined and created,” the motion says in a footnote. “It is not clear whether the Indictment alleges that Concord was part of the ‘Organization.'”
Mueller’s indictment accuses Concord of helping to fund disruption of the U.S. election by Research Internet Agency, the primary defendant, which is accused of using fake American identities to establish likewise fake social media accounts on which it spread disinformation and divisive political material prior to the election.
For Dubelier, the regulatory requirements described in Mueller’s indictment are unknown even to most Americans.
He says the unique nature of the case justifies having the presiding judge review the grand jury instructions for accuracy in chambers.
“If the court determines that the special counsel did not provide a complete and accurate mens rea instruction then the instruction should be disclosed to the Defendant because there may be grounds to dismiss Count One of the indictment on that basis,” the motion states.
Attorney Dubelier did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the filing.