Trump-Appointed Judge Rules Against Indicted Russian Firm

WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge appointed by President Donald Trump denied a Russian company’s motion Monday to dismiss criminal charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, rejecting claims about the legitimacy of the investigation into interference in the 2016 election.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Concord Management and Consulting’s attempts to discredit the investigation were shot down in a 41-page ruling from U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was appointed by Trump to the District of Columbia bench last year.

Owned by indicted Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, a caterer whose connections to the Russian president have earned him the nickname “Putin’s chef,” Concord faces a conspiracy charge for allegedly funding the troll farms that went into overdrive for Trump in 2016.

Concord was indicted along with two other Russian companies and 13 Russian individuals but remains the sole entity to respond in court. Included among this group is Prigozhin himself and another of his companies, Concord Catering.

In late June, Reed Smith lawyers representing Concord filed a motion to stifle the prosecution, claiming Department of Justice regulations governing Mueller violate separation-of-powers principles.

Concord’s tactic echoed one that proved unsuccessful previously for Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who is currently on trial in Virginia.

Unlike Manafort, however, Concord challenged the constitutionality rather than the breadth of Mueller’s appointment, along with the legality of the Justice Department’s special counsel regulations.

But Judge Friedrich was not persuaded and denied the company’s motion to dismiss Monday.

“Even though no statute explicitly authorizes the acting attorney general to make the appointment, Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit precedent make clear that the acting attorney general has the necessary statutory authority,” she wrote. “The appointment does not violate core separation-of-powers principles. Nor has the special counsel exceeded his authority under the appointment order by investigating and prosecuting Concord.”

Friedrich, a Florida native, served as associate counsel to the president under the George W. Bush Administration and as chief crime counsel to Republican U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.

She made headlines last week when she approved the use of “firewall” counsel to handle sensitive discovery in the Concord case.

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