Indicted Russian Firm Clamors for Grand Jury Instructions

WASHINGTON (CN) – One of the Russian firms indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for its role in disrupting the 2016 U.S. presidential election continued its aggressive stance toward the prosecution in a new court filing Friday.

Represented by Reed Smith attorney Eric Dubelier, Concord Management and Consulting LLC called Mueller “unlawfully appointed” and said no case law in the D.C. Circuit would prevent the federal judge presiding over the case from reviewing grand jury instructions.

In its bid late last month to have U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich review the grand jury instructions in her chambers, Concord argued that they could provide a basis for dismissing the single count it faces, conspiracy to defraud the United States.

According to the indictment, Concord failed to register as a foreign agent, failed to make required disclosures to the Federal Election Commission, and made false statements to secure fraudulent visas.

Special counsel prosecutor Jeannie Rhee objected to Concord’s request on June 1, arguing that D.C. Circuit precedent forecloses review of the grand jury instructions. Rhee also said Concord had failed to present a compelling need to break grand jury secrecy.

But in a 7-page reply on Friday Concord says Mueller has admitted not following Justice Department guidelines when he indicted the case as a “knowing” rather than “willful” violation of law, a requirement Concord says is necessary for the charge to move forward.

“We now know for certain that the Special Counsel failed to follow Department of Justice guidelines and failed to heed the warnings of a three-judge panel of this Court in his attempt to evade the burden of proving that these foreign defendants had knowledge of the law and regulations they are accused of violating,” the brief says.

According to Concord, a higher burden is required to indict election-law violations, particularly for a foreign company without a presence in the United States.

Rhee, however, maintains that the count of conspiracy was properly charged.

In her June 1 filing, Rhee said Concord doesn’t need the grand jury instructions to pursue dismissal “because the mens rea is apparent from the face of the indictment.”

Concord took issue with that assertion Friday.

“The face of the Indictment makes it clear that the Special Counsel, acting independent of the Department of Justice, was either ignorant of, or even worse determined that he did not have to follow, the law,” its brief says.

Concord also accuses Mueller of relying on outdated law in United States v. Klein, a more than 60-year-old tax-prosecution case it says has never been cited by the Supreme Court and was cited only once by the D.C. Circuit.

Concord is one of two indicted Russian companies owned by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, a caterer whose close ties to the Russian president earned him the nickname “Putin’s chef.”

Mueller indicted Concord and two other Russian companies, along with 13 Russian individuals on Feb. 16. Prigozhin is among the individual defendants named in the indictment, but he has so far not responded to the lawsuit.

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