Indicted Russian Firm Defends Interest in Subpoena Appeal

WASHINGTON (CN) – A Russian firm accused of conspiracy in the plot to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election bolstered its bid Wednesday to participate in an appeal by Roger Stone’s subpoenaed longtime aide.

Concord Management and Consulting LLC first asked to intervene in Andrew Miller’s appeal last week, arguing that the precedent expected from his proceeding will impact the company’s own case.

As with Concord, which was named in a massive indictment this past February, Miller was subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in connection to the Russia investigation. Miller’s refusal to comply with that subpoena led a federal judge to hold him in contempt, but he his banking his appeal on an argument that Mueller was unconstitutionally appointed.

Concord has made a similar argument, to no avail, in its own case. The company’s doubled down on the argument Wednesday after Mueller’s team filed a brief Monday in opposition to Concord’s requested intervention.

Whereas the government said Concord should have tried to intervene in Miller’s grand jury matter before he appealed to the D.C. Circuit, Concord contends that there is “no authority supporting such a draconian timeliness requirement.”

Represented by Reed Smith attorney James Martin, Concord says the appointments clause provides it “a legally protected interest against indictment and prosecution at the hands of an unconstitutionally appointed officer of the United States.”

The invasion of this interest provides just the type of “concrete, particularized, and ongoing” harm that warrants intervention in Miller’s case, its reply brief states.

Concord also contends that any ruling by the D.C. Circuit in Miller’s favor will do more than just vacate his contempt order. The D.C. Circuit will very likely issue an opinion that also weighs in on whether the appointment order naming Mueller as special counsel violates the appointments clause.

“That will impact Concord directly as far as the viability of the criminal proceedings against it,” Concord’s reply says.

The government meanwhile argued that having a “keen interest” in Miller’s appeal doesn’t bestow standing on the indicted firm to do so. If permitted, the government predicted, Concord will effectively join Miller to “complain about” the contempt order handed down by Chief U.S. District Beryl Howell.

The D.C. Circuit has yet to weigh in on the legality of Mueller’s appointment.

While it was Howell who ruled against Miller, it was U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich who affirmed the constitutionality of Mueller’s appointment in the Concord case.

Both of the judges presiding over the twin criminal cases against ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort also denied bids to toss the indictments against him on the basis of Mueller’s appointment.

Manafort had claimed the appointment order did not authorize Mueller to charge him with crimes unrelated to Russian interference in the 2016 election or possible coordination with that effort by members of the Trump campaign.

In Virginia and in Washington, however, the courts ruled that Mueller acted within his authority to charge Manafort for unrelated to his role in the Trump campaign.

Concord lodged an appeal related to Mueller’s appointment in its own case as well this past Monday, and continues to poke and prod at the indictment.

In a separate motion for its case filed Wednesday, Concord seeks discovery from the government for a possible claim of selective prosecution.

Concord says the Justice Department has never prosecuted another nongovernmental foreign national for deceptively using social media during a presidential election.

Though other foreign nationals attempted to influence the 2016 election, Concord says Mueller’s investigation has targeted only Russians.

“The identification and prosecution of only Russians is particularly nefarious here because it coincided with massive political and public pressure on the Special Counsel to confirm a narrative generated by the Clinton campaign that the Russians had ensured the election of President Trump,” the motion says.

Concord says this suggests that Mueller selectively prosecuted the company, which it says would warrant dismissal of the conspiracy charge if borne out by evidence.

Concord wants to know whether the Justice Department investigated or took prosecutorial action on covert Ukrainian, Middle Eastern and British efforts to sway the 2016 election, along with information concerning campaign contributions from foreign nationals who tried to conceal the donations.

Concord also wants information about any other instances of election interference in 2016 in support of any presidential candidates.

Owned by an oligarch with documented ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Concord is accused of funding a large-scale Kremlin influence campaign that tried to sew political discord in the United States and sway the 2016 election in Donald Trump’s favor.

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