WASHINGTON (CN) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller asked a federal judge to deny an indicted Russian firm’s request for information turned up in discovery with third parties, saying it “unreasonably risks the national security interests of the United States.”
Indicted by a grand jury nearly a year ago in connection with Mueller’s probe, Concord Management and Consulting faces charges it helped fund Russian troll farms that supported then-candidate Donald Trump or attacked his opponent Hillary Clinton without registering with the U.S. government.
Concord’s lawyers were previously restricted from sharing what Mueller’s office called “sensitive” information with contacts back in Russia, under a protective order set by U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich.
In his 18-page opposition, Mueller said the risks of sharing this information haven’t gone down during this pending litigation – they’ve become more acute. “One or more actors” claimed to have stolen some information produced by discovery in October 2018, he said.
“The subsequent investigation has revealed that certain non-sensitive discovery materials in the defense’s possession appear to have been altered and disseminated as part of a disinformation campaign aimed (apparently) at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. political system,” Mueller said in the brief.
The special counsel refers to a Twitter account from which the user tweeted, “We’ve got access to the Special Counsel Mueller’s probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case Concord LLC v. Mueller. You can view all the files Mueller had about the IRA and Russian collusion. Enjoy the reading!”
The link provided in the tweet took viewers to a webpage that mimicked the file structure of materials produced in discovery for the case. But Mueller said that the similarities were enough indicate someone had access to at least non-sensitive case information.
“The fact that the webpage contained numerous irrelevant files suggest that the person who created the webpage used their knowledge of the non-sensitive discovery to make it appear as though the irrelevant files contained on the webpage were the sum total evidence of ‘IRA and Russian collusion’ gathered by law enforcement in this matter in an apparent effort to discredit the investigation,” he said in the brief.
Concord’s initial request is also too broad, Mueller said, and does not specify which documents they want nor to whom they would be shown. Such “blanket authority” would also allow sensitive information to be shared with individuals in Russia “outside the jurisdiction of this court to enforce the terms of the protective order,” Mueller said in the brief.
Concord’s lawyer Eric Dubelier argued he needs discuss information about the case with business associates in order to fully prepare the defense.
Dubelier also argued none of the information Mueller turned over since the protective order is even classified, and much of it was deemed “sensitive” by the special counsel, making it off limits anyway.
But nothing is stopping Concord employees from viewing whatever documents are deemed sensitive, according to Mueller, as long as they show up on United States soil to do so.
“The government has never sought to bar court-approved individual officers and employees of Concord from reviewing sensitive discovery materials in the United States offices of Reed Smith under the security protections established by the court’s protective order,” he said, adding that “indeed, the government does not oppose such a review even by indicted officers and employees of Concord, as their appearance in the United States would allow them to stand trial.”