Russian Firm Indicted for Election Interference Accuses US of ‘Hypocrisy’

The company Mueller accused of backing the world’s most notorious trolls fights back in court.

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press

Lawyers representing a Russian company indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for supporting meddling in the 2016 US elections accused the US of hypocrisy in a Monday court filing. 

Concord Management and Consulting LLC is one of the Russian companies indicted by Mueller on February 16 and accused of being used by its owner, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, to fund the Internet Research Agency, the Russian “troll farm” that Mueller has accused of having “a strategic goal to sow discord in the US political system.” The IRA’s tactics included posting derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, boosting Donald Trump, and staging political rallies focused on politically-divisive issues like gun control and police violence. Mueller says the group violated the law by failing to register as foreign agents carrying out political activities within the US, and by obtaining visas through false and fraudulent statements. 

Eric A. Dubelier and Katherine Seikaly of Washington’s Reed Smith LLP law firm claim that Mueller has accused Concord, their client, of engaging “in the make-believe crime of conspiring to ‘interfere’ in a United States election,” complaining that the charges “have a strong odor of hypocrisy.” A footnote cites a December 2016 interview NPR conducted with Dov Levin, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, who found that the US interfered in foreign elections more than 80 times between 1946 and 2000. The footnote also cited an ABC News piece discussing a CIA acknowledgement of interfering in Chilean elections in the 1970s, and a 2013 CNN piece discussing CIA involvement in a coup in Iran in 1953.

Monday’s filing asks a federal judge to allow Concord’s American attorneys to privately review the instructions given to a Washington grand jury to ensure the panel was properly informed about what was required before it returned the February 16 indictment. If it was not, the lawyers have argued that the indictment could be invalid.

Concord’s lawyers have argued that Mueller is bucking years of US Department of Justice precedent “to indict a Russian—any Russian” as a means to “justify his own existence.”