Russian Firm Tied to ‘Putin’s Cook’ Attacks Mueller in Filing

(Bloomberg) -- A Russian company tied to a longtime associate of President Vladimir Putin of Russia claimed that the appointment of U.S. Special Robert Mueller was unconstitutional and that a federal indictment of the firm should be dismissed.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein improperly appointed Mueller and he lacked authorization of the U.S. Congress to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Concord Management and Consulting LLP argued Monday in court papers.

The firm, based in Saint Petersburg, is controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian caterer who is close to Putin. It provides food services to the Kremlin. Concord is the only defendant among three companies and 13 Russian nationals, including Prigozhin, to appear in court since their indictment in February.

“The deputy attorney general and the special counsel are attempting to exercise authority neither the Constitution nor Congress has conferred, and the court should dismiss the indictment to restore the checks and balances the constitution demands,” Concord attorneys Eric Dubelier and Katherine Seikaly wrote in a court filing.

Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman to President Donald Trump who is under indictment, has made similar arguments attacking the appointment and authority of Mueller to prosecute his case. Manafort, who was indicted in Washington and Alexandria, Virginia, failed to persuade one judge to dismiss his case based on similar arguments. The other judge is still weighing his request.

Concord is among those accused of producing propaganda, posing as U.S. activists and posting political content on social media as so-called trolls to encourage strife in the U.S.

In the filing, Concord argued that Rosenstein violated the appointments clause of the U.S. Constitution because Mueller was neither appointed by the president nor confirmed by the Senate. It claims that the special counsel regulations put in place by the Justice Department in 1999 aren’t binding because the attorney general lacked the authority to issue them.

Apart from the question of the special counsel’s authority, the Concord indictment went beyond Mueller’s purview because it contains no allegations about the Russian government, Trump’s campaign, coordination between Concord and the Russian government or Trump’s campaign, or obstruction with Mueller’s investigation.

“Surely, Concord cannot be indicted under an order that does not purport to reach it,” according to the filing.

The case is U.S. v. Internet Research Agency, 18-cr-32, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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