Special counsel Robert Mueller likely assumed the alleged "Russian troll farm" he brought charges against would never appear in court as all the accused are Russian nationals with zero fear of extradition.
He was wrong.
Not only did accused firm Concord Management and Consulting hire two American lawyers to show up in court in DC, but they started filing tons of discovery requests.
Mueller's team seems to have panicked and requested the case be delayed, but on Saturday evening, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich denied their request.
In a brief order Saturday evening, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich offered no explanation for her decision to deny a request prosecutors made Friday to put off the scheduled Wednesday arraignment for Concord Management and Consulting, one of the three firms charged in the case.As Moon of Alabama reported in February, the alleged Russian troll farm masquerading as a "commercial marketing company" may have actually just been a commercial marketing company.
[...]On Friday, Mueller's prosecutors disclosed that Concord's attorneys, Eric Dubelier and Kate Seikaly, had made a slew of discovery requests demanding nonpublic details about the case and the investigation. Prosecutors also asked a judge to postpone the formal arraignment of Concord Management set for next week.
The prosecution team sought the delay on the grounds that it's unclear whether Concord Management formally accepted the court summons related to the case. Mueller's prosecutors also revealed that they tried to deliver the summonses for Concord and IRA through the Russian government, without success.
"The [U.S.] government has attempted service of the summonses by delivering copies of them to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Russia, to be delivered to the defendants," prosecutors wrote. "That office, however, declined to accept the summonses. The government has submitted service requests to the Russian government pursuant to a mutual legal assistance treaty. To the government's knowledge, no further steps have been taken within Russia to effectuate service."
Mueller's team sent a copy of the formal summons to Dubelier and Seikaly and asked them to accept it on behalf of Concord Management, but Dubelier wrote back on Monday saying that the government's attempt to serve the summons was defective under court rules. He did not elaborate.
[...]In their request on Friday to put off the arraignment, prosecutors included the extensive demands for information that the lawyers for Concord Management have set forth since they stepped forward last month.
"Until the Court has an opportunity to determine if Concord was properly served, it would be inadvisable to conduct an initial appearance and arraignment at which important rights will be communicated and a plea entertained," attorneys Jeannie Rhee, Rush Atkinson and Ryan Dickey wrote. "That is especially true in the context of this case, which involves a foreign corporate defendant, controlled by another, individual foreign defendant, that has already demanded production of sensitive intelligence gathering, national security, and foreign affairs information."
The Mueller team proposed that both sides file briefs in the coming weeks on the issues of whether Concord has been properly served.
In a blunt response Saturday morning, Concord's attorneys accused Mueller's team of ignoring the court's rules and suggesting a special procedure for the Russian firm without any supporting legal authority.
"Defendant voluntarily appeared through counsel as provided for in [federal rules], and further intends to enter a plea of not guilty. Defendant has not sought a limited appearance nor has it moved to quash the summons. As such, the briefing sought by the Special Counselís motion is pettifoggery," Dubelier and Seikaly wrote.
The Concord lawyers said Mueller's attorneys were seeking "to usurp the scheduling authority of the Court" by waiting until Friday afternoon to try to delay a proceeding scheduled for next Wednesday. Dubelier and Seikaly complained that the special counsel's office has not replied at all to Concord's discovery requests. The lawyers, who work for Pittsburgh-based law firm Reed Smith, also signaled Concord intends to assert its speedy trial rights, putting more pressure on the special counsel's office to turn over records related to the case.
Friedrich, a Trump appointee based in Washington, sided with Concord and said the arraignment will proceed as scheduled Wednesday afternoon.
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