On Monday, US District Judge Dabney Freidrich demanded that St. Petersburg-based Concord Management supply her Washington, DC, court with subpoenaed company records by sending someone tasked with record-keeping to deliver them from Russia in person. She rejected a sworn statement, Courthouse News reported.
Concord’s legal representative, attorney Eric Dubelier, adamantly rejected Freidrich’s suggestion that the defense was engaged in something “sneaky,” calling the US government’s position “a ridiculous argument.”
Meanwhile, federal prosecutors urged the judge to hold Concord in civil contempt in a Thursday court filing.
“We are starting to have some concerns about whether Concord is participating in this case,” US Attorney Adam Jed said in court on Monday. “It gives us pause … that they are just going to write something down and give it to the US government,” he said of the sworn statement.
Concord replied on Friday with its own filing arguing its case for not being held in civil contempt, accusing the US Department of Justice of showing a “manifest disregard of the record and controlling law.”
“The primary foundation for its demand - that Concord’s counsel did not thoroughly explain the bases for Concord’s responses to the subpoenas - not only is not found in any court order but this Court expressly rejected the notion that such an explanation could be required,” Dubelier argued in the filing. The attorney noted that no court order had ever required such an explanation.
“And here again, the government’s incredulity over the adequacy of the response, real or feigned, does not reveal a failure to respond, much less a violation of any court order related to such a response. Simply put, the basis for a contempt finding is a product of the government’s argument, not the relevant record,” he noted.
The trial is anticipated to begin next month, with the discovery process having dragged on for nearly two years as Concord lawyers challenged Mueller’s authority to charge the company, then urged the DoJ to hold Mueller and Attorney General William Barr in contempt for publishing the Mueller report.
In a highly unorthodox move, the DoJ has refused the sharing of discovery materials with the defense, arguing that since Concord is partially owned by Russian businessman Yevgeniy Prigozhin, doing so would help the Russian government react to US attempts to thwart alleged criminal activities. During discovery, the prosecution and defense typically share their positions and the evidence supporting them before the trial itself begins.
Concord is accused of conspiracy to defraud the United States by allegedly financing the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election because Prigozhin is allegedly tied to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), which the Office of the Director of National Intelligence claimed is the ‘troll farm’ behind the alleged interference. Along with Concord, Mueller indicted a dozen IRA employees in February 2018.