Caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Robert Mueller’s indictment of the Russian company, Concord Management and Consulting, is turning into a farce. Back in February, Mueller indicted three Russian companies and thirteen Russians, who may or may not exist, on a series of chickensh** charges related to placing Facebook ads and organizing anti-Trump demonstrations. When Mueller first announced the indictment, my gut feeling was that it was a public relations scam being run on a credulous media and restless public. He was trying to look like he was doing something in relation to his charter while, in fact, simply hunting random scalps.
As Andy McCarthy said at the time:
When prosecutors are serious about nabbing law-breakers who are at large, they do not file an indictment publicly. That would just induce the offenders to flee to or remain in their safe havens. Instead, prosecutors file their indictment under seal, ask the court to issue arrest warrants, and quietly go about the business of locating and apprehending the defendants charged. In the Russia case, however, the indictment was filed publicly even though the defendants are at large. That is because the Justice Department and the special counsel know the Russians will stay safely in Russia.
Mueller’s allegations will never be tested in court. That makes his indictment more a political statement than a charging instrument.
This all changed when Concord hired US counsel and decided to put on a defense. Suddenly, what had been pure theater became a real case. Since that time Mueller’s crack squad has demonstrated that when it is facing a defendant who can’t be bullied into a guilty plea that it looks pretty ridiculous. Concord is contesting the indictment as defective as it doesn’t present evidence to show a crime was committed. We’ve found out that one of the three Russian companies in question did not even exist during the period the crimes are alleged to take place. And the government had refused to acknowledge discovery requests made by Concord’s legal team. (My coverage of the case, thus far.)
Now Mueller’s henchmen have come to the conclusion that they are going to have to try a crap case and they aren’t happy about. They’ve responded to their first discovery request:
While the legal teams picked at one another in and out of court, Mueller’s office has been preparing to turn over the data it collected in the case, which now amounts to 1.5 to 2 terabytes of social media data, largely in Russian, Rhee said Wednesday.
A terabyte is equivalent to 1 trillion bytes, and in this case represents hundreds of social media accounts.
The amount of data prosecutors have in the case will play into the attempt Concord Management has made to review all documents as soon as possible and force a trial by summer.
“We’re going to get this massive dump of social media stuff that’s in Russian,” Dubelier told the judge. “This is an American court.”
Rhee countered that some but not all of the data in Russian had been translated by the government’s team, and that it was “voluminous” evidence of Concord Management’s conduct and own statements. The data included email and other accounts, she said, that spoke to the internal operations of the alleged conspiracy.
“It is not a data dump, your honor,” she said.
In the hearing Wednesday, Rhee said the special counsel would seek a protective order barring wider dissemination of data the defendants will receive in the case.
She said lawyers hadn’t been able to discuss that request before the hearing, because Dubelier had hung up on her team nine minutes into a call they had last Friday, which had been scheduled to last an hour. Dubelier said he “resents” Rhee’s representation of the call.
“I said, ‘How do you know what’s in it?’ ” Dubelier told the judge, referring to the massive amount of online data in Russian. “They didn’t want to talk to me anymore.”
This is just the lack of professionalism that is becoming a hallmark of Mueller team. The fact is that there is no guarantee, or really any possibility, that most of this stuff applies to the case. The documents haven’t even been machine translated so Mueller’s people are simply giving the defense electronic files they’ve harvested. The idea is to try to bog them down and have them waive the speedy trial demand. Odds are that this is going to backfire but the prosecution seems more interested in acting out than acting adult.
Right now, the Concord case is on the verge of being dismissed. The defense is challenging the constitutionality of how Mueller interpreted on of the laws Concord is alleged to have violated. If that happens, then something else might happen,too. The US taxpayers may be on the hook for Concord’s lawyers fees and expenses.
The 1997 Hyde Amendment allows the court to order the federal government to pay attorneys fees and costs “where the court finds that the position of the United States was ‘vexatious, frivolous, or in bad faith.'” If the Concord indictment is found insufficient, or the case is dismissed for other reasons, then the Mueller teams’ refusal to respond to discover, and when they do respond it is calculated to be abusive, especially when the case looks like it brought with no intent of ever trying it, then we’re well into making a case that the prosecution is “vexatious, frivolous, or in bad faith.”