US

Mueller forced to delay court case alleging Russian interference after two lawyers call his bluff

Special counsel Robert Mueller was forced to delay a court case this week after lawyers representing a Russian company demanded to see the evidence against their client. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

FBI special counsel Robert Mueller is seeking to delay the first court hearing in a criminal case alleging Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller has brought charges against three Russian companies and 13 Russians for the alleged interference.

The delay comes after two attorneys representing one of the Russian entities began challenging Mueller's evidence in the case.

What are the details?

According to Politico, the 13 Russians and three companies — the Internet Research Agency, Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering — were expected to ignore the indictments since they are outside U.S. jurisdiction.

However, that's not what happened. Last month, two lawyers representing Concord Management — Eric Dubelier and Kate Seikaly — surfaced. Mueller told the court Friday the lawyers made a series of discovery requests demanding nonpublic information about Mueller's case. As attorneys representing one of the defendants, they are allowed to make such requests.

Politico reported that "the move appeared to be a bid to force Mueller’s team to turn over relevant evidence to the Russian firm and perhaps even to bait prosecutors into an embarrassing dismissal in order to avoid disclosing sensitive information."

More from Politico:

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.

And despite the fact that Mueller's team provided Dubelier with a copy of the summons, Dubelier told Mueller's team this week it was "defective."

The delay will allow the court to determine if Dubelier's client was properly served a summons, but it will also allow Mueller's team to provide Dubelier and Seikaly with the requested evidence.

According to Politico, Mueller's team proposed both sides file briefs with the court to determine if Concord Management was properly summoned. Mueller's team said they would file by May 25, while giving Concord's attorneys until June 15.

How did the judge rule?

Federal Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in December to serve in the District of Columbia, did not immediately issue a ruling or postpone the arraignment.

She instructed Concord's attorneys to respond to prosecutor's request to delay by Monday.

One last thing…
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