WASHINGTON (CN) – Prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office urged a federal judge Wednesday to advance their case against a consultancy owned by a Russian oligarch.
The brief comes roughly a month after Concord Management & Consulting LLC asked the court to dismiss the single charge it faces of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Though Concord has been accused of funding an internet troll farm that tried to sway the 2016 election for then-candidate Donald Trump, attorneys for the company at Reed Smith have claimed that no law prohibits interfering with a U.S. election, or conspiring to do so.
Claiming that Mueller’s team failed to adequately allege a conspiracy charge showing the company interfered with a lawful government function, Reed Smith attorney Eric Dubelier insisted in his brief that Mueller charged Concord with a “make-believe crime.”
Concord also claims Mueller failed to show that Concord willfully violated election laws.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy fired back at the motion Wednesday afternoon, saying her office’s indictment was precise and alleges all conspiracy elements.
“The government need prove only that Concord ‘knowingly participated in the conspiracy with the intent … to defraud the United States,’” the 53-page brief says.
“Far from charging Concord with ‘a contrived crime not specifically defined in any statute, without notice and under a standard known only to the special counsel,’ as Concord contends, the indictment alleges the violation of a statute dating to 1867 that the courts have construed as prohibiting precisely the unlawful conduct described in Count One, namely, a conspiracy to obstruct governmental functions by dishonest and deceitful means,” the brief later adds.
Along with two other Russian companies and 13 Russians, Concord was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington on Feb. 16 for conspiring to disrupt the American political system, and using fraud and deceit to evade election expenditures and registering as foreign agents.
Owned by indicted Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, a caterer with close ties to the Russian president, Concord is the only named defendant to respond to the lawsuit.
Despite using aggressive tactics to challenge the indictment and Mueller’s authority to bring it, Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich has largely sided with the government.
Most recently, Friedrich denied Concord’s challenge to Mueller’s authority, finding that his appointment does not violate separation-of-powers principles, and that his investigation and prosecution of Concord do not exceed his authority.
Friedrich is the second federal judge to affirm the constitutionality of Mueller’s appointment as special counsel.