Special Counsel Seeks to Block Russian Firm’s Claims

WASHINGTON (CN) – Prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office urged a federal court Friday to shut down an effort by an indicted Russian firm to bring a claim of selective prosecution.

Concord Management and Consulting LLC asked the court late last month for discovery from the government to determine if it can move to dismiss the lone conspiracy charge it faces on selective prosecution grounds.

Concord says other foreign actors moved in 2016 to sway the U.S. presidential election but were not prosecuted, and wants court-approved information from the government about other instances of foreign election interference.

But prosecutor Jonathan Kravis said in a new filing late Friday afternoon that Concord is not entitled to the information.

“Concord’s motion fails to meet the rigorous standard for overcoming the presumption of regularity that attaches to prosecutorial decision-making, and therefore Concord is not entitled to discovery on a claim of selective prosecution,” the 13-page opposition brief says.

To clear the high bar that would overcome that presumption, Kravis said Concord must show “clear evidence” of “discriminatory effect and discriminatory intent.”

Kravis said such discovery requests can divert prosecutorial resources, and could expose the government’s prosecutorial strategy.

In its Aug. 29 motion for discovery, Concord identified Ukrainian, Middle Eastern and British efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, along with two non-Russians who made unlawful campaign contributions.

But Kravis said those examples “do not come close” to alleging conduct similar to what Concord stands accused of.

Owned by an oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mueller accused Concord 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.

Kravis called it “a multi-year conspiracy” that used deception to obstruct the ability of U.S. authorities to tackle foreign activity in the country.

“None of Concord’s examples remotely compares to this systematic, deceptive effort to interfere in our democracy,” the opposition brief says.

Kravis also pushed back against Concord’s assertion that the appointment order naming Mueller as special counsel was improperly motivated because of its focus on the Kremlin’s election meddling.

“Defining the scope of a criminal investigation with reference to the documented activities of a particular foreign government that engaged in a broad and unparalleled attack on the U.S. presidential election and that is potentially behind or associated with major patterns of criminal conduct does not amount to improper prosecutorial motivation based on a protected characteristic,” the filing says.

Kravis says the appointment order authorizes Mueller to prosecute that arise from the probe “regardless of the nationality of the defendant.”

Kravis also noted that discovery and judicial review could raise concerns about exposing sources and methods, given the foreign-relations aspect of the appointment order.

 

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