Under cover of the wall-to-wall coverage of Chinese coronavirus, a central pillar of the already discredited Robert Mueller special counsel investigation has suffered a major blow, further exposing the miscarriage of, and disaster to, our justice system that it represented.
Federal prosecutors have dropped the charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States against two corporate defendants in the Russian “troll farm” case. That case hewed most closely to the special counsel’s mandate in that it showed Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election, although absent “collusion” with Americans.
Recall that in the much-bandied-about case, the Robert Mueller special counsel team indicted 13 Russians and three corporate entities for “defrauding” the United States in allegedly engaging in a cartoonish, low-budget social media political meme campaign. The team presented the case as proof positive that the Russians worked to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election — although there has never been any proof Russia altered one vote nor evidence any American changed his or her vote due to seeing a crude Russian-created meme on social media.
The indictment belied this narrative, showing propaganda produced by the Russian participants in the scheme, favorable at one time or another to no fewer than four candidates, and staking out varied positions on a diverse array of issues. The primary “strategic goal [was] to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” in the words of the special counsel. It was not to help any one candidate win.
Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy at the time suggested the indictment was “more a political statement than a charging instrument,” since prosecutors do not file indictments publicly when the defendants have not been apprehended. In this case, the defendants would never be apprehended, as they resided in Russia.
This view appears to be vindicated now that two of the corporate defendants the special counsel included in the indictment have been dropped from it. These two entities were Concord Management and Consulting LLC (Concord) and Concord Catering (collectively, the “Concord Entities”). Laughably for Russia, Concord Catering allegedly did not even exist during the time period the indictment covered.
The genesis of this Mueller calamity came in May 2018, when, apparently to the surprise of the special counsel, lawyers for Concord appeared in court, pushed for discovery requests, and filed a not-guilty plea. As I wrote at the time, the Mueller team then faced a series of bad choices: Either litigate the case, thereby potentially imperiling national security should the U.S. government be forced to produce sensitive information in discovery, or dismiss it with respect to the Concord Entities, delegitimizing the special counsel by showing that one of its few non-process-crime cases pertaining to its Russia-centric mandate had partially collapsed. Now it has.
Simply put, apparently in seeking to justify its existence by expanding the indictment to include these corporate defendants, the Mueller special counsel tried, as Concord’s lawyer Eric Dubelier said, to indict a “ham sandwich,” the ham sandwich called its bluff, and it won. Even worse, in so doing the Mueller special counsel may have further damaged the justice system by arguably inventing a crime to charge the Concord Entities in the first place.
As Russiagate sleuth @Techno_Fog highlights, the charge against the Concord Entities was that “the defendants knowingly and intentionally engaged in deceptive acts that interfered with the regulatory functions of the [Federal Elections Commission] or [Justice Department] in a way that precluded those entities from ascertaining whether those substantive statutes [the Federal Election Campaign Act and/or the Foreign Agents Registration Act] were violated.”
Concord’s counsel claimed the “real Department of Justice” had never brought such a case. @Techno_Fog demonstrates in two helpful threads the extent to which this case proved a disaster for the special counsel.
Ironically, Russia emerges as one of the major victors here, having caused the Department of Justice to back down via an entity in Concord backed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, reportedly a close associate to Vladimir Putin. Prigozhin promptly threatened to sue the U.S. government for $50 billion for “unlawful prosecution” after the case was dropped.
The Mueller special counsel, in short, created a propaganda coup for Russia through pursuing this politicized indictment, seemingly to justify its existence, and very likely to the detriment of U.S. law.
As another keen Russiagate observer, Undercover Huber, sums it up: “[N]ow the Russians don’t just have more rights than Trump (because he had to somehow prove himself innocent), in the eyes of the justice system and public opinion — these Russians ARE now innocent, forever.”
What has transpired in this once-heralded case further diminishes whatever remaining credence the Mueller special counsel and the Russiagate narrative had. It proves the Russian collusion-mongers have done infinitely more damage to America than Vladimir Putin could have ever dreamed of inflicting.