WASHINGTON (CN) – A company accused of funding the Russian troll farms that favored Donald Trump’s candidacy in 2016 told a federal judge Thursday that release of the special counsel’s report makes a fair trial unlikely.
In a motion to show cause filed early this afternoon, Concord Management and Consulting says Attorney General William Barr and special counsel Robert Mueller could be held in contempt.
Reed Smith attorney Eric Dubelier says in the motion that the problem with Mueller’s report is that it presents as fact various conclusions about Russian interference in the 2016 election.
That includes Mueller’s determination that Concord funneled money to the Internet Research Agency, which led the influence operation that sought to sway the 2016 election in then-candidate Donald Trump’s favor.
Owned by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin, Concord has pleaded not guilty to a single conspiracy charge arising from Mueller’s investigation.
Prigozhin, a caterer sometimes referred to as “Putin’s chef” because of his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, was indicted alongside his company but has yet to respond in court to the charges.
Dubelier also complains about the voice that Attorney General Barr gave to Mueller’s conclusions during a press conference before the report’s release.
Noting that both the report and Barr’s comments have been widely disseminated and discussed in the press, Concord says the special counsel’s report was wielded “as a sword to prejudice Concord, and a shield to hide discovery.”
“The practical effect of the broadside … on Concord was to advise the world (including potential jurors) that the allegations in the Indictment are true and that the Defendants in this case were operating as part of a Russian-government led interference campaign,” the motion says (parentheses in original).
Dubelier contends that Barr and Mueller violated court rules that prohibit attorneys from making public statements in criminal cases, including about a defendant’s guilt or innocence.
Such rules are incorporated into the Justice Department’s governing regulations as well, according to the motion.
Tension over discovery has complicated Concord’s case from its inception, an issue exacerbated by a protective order that has prevented Concord’s defense team from sharing evidence with the company’s officers or employees in Russia.
The government contends the order is crucial to protect national security, and opposes allowing Prigozhin to view evidence in the case.
In a March 7 hearing, the government argued that doing so could threaten grand jury secrecy, expose investigative techniques, and potentially identify cooperating witnesses and uncharged entities and individuals.
While the order is under scrutiny by U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a “firewall” or third-party attorney has had to review sensitive evidence before Dubelier can share it with his client.
As the order stands, Concord’s officers and employees can view evidence only at the Reed Smith offices in the United States.
Dubelier highlighted the thorny issue in Thursday’s filing.
“There is no small irony in the fact that for a year the government has successfully kept over 3.5 million pages of discovery in the case from Concord while at the same time determined it was appropriate to broadcast its unilateral and biased version of the evidence in the case to the public at large,” the motion says.
Concord has asked the judge to require the attorney general and special counsel to appear in court to explain why they should not be held in contempt for releasing information about the case to the public.
The parties did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the motion.