Putin Chef's Firm Seeks Contempt Against Mueller Over Report


(Bloomberg) -- The Russian consulting firm indicted by U.S. prosecutors for interfering in the 2016 election said Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report undermined the company’s shot at a fair trial.

Mueller and Attorney General William Barr must explain to a judge why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for violating court rules with the 448-page report, according to a filing in Washington Thursday. The company is run by a man so close to the Kremlin that his nickname is Putin’s Chef.

Court regulations in Washington bar lawyers from "releasing prohibited information and opinions regarding the guilt of the accused," Eric Dubelier, Concord Management and Consulting LLC’s lawyer, said in a filing. Mueller and Barr violated the regulation by prejudging Concord’s guilt and putting details about their evidence in the report, he said.

"The practical effect of the broadside by AG Barr and SC Mueller on Concord was to advise the world (including potential jurors) that the allegations in the indictment are true and that the defendants in this case were operating as part of a Russian-government led interference campaign," Dubelier wrote.

Concord was indicted for conspiring with two other Russian businesses and 13 individuals to defraud the U.S. Dubelier has accused Mueller’s team of making up an offense to fit the facts, with the added jab in an earlier filing that the "real" Justice Department would have never brought such a case. The judge denied his requests to throw out the case.

Mueller’s report concluded last week that President Donald Trump’s campaign didn’t conspire with the Russian government in its "sweeping" election interference, but detailed numerous interactions between campaign officials and Russians tied to the government.

Justice Department employees are barred from making statements or disclosing information that could have a "substantial likelihood" of prejudicing a case, Dubelier said. The company compared Mueller’s public findings to comments by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who at the time the case was filed "properly framed the indictment as mere allegations and further said nothing about the Russian government allegedly directing the conduct," according to the filing.

Concord is accused of bankrolling a wide-ranging, multimillion-dollar operation using false names and social media accounts to promote Trump’s candidacy during the campaign while attacking his rivals, including Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton. The conspirators also conscripted otherwise innocent Trump campaign workers to help organize rallies, the U.S. says.

Bill Miller, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu in Washington, declined to comment on the filing.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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