Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Friday asked a district court judge in Washington D.C. to postpone the arraignment of a Russian business that Mueller’s team accused of funding Russian objectives to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The office of the special counsel stated that they believed that the Russian business was not “properly served” after the Russians declined to serve them.
After the empaneled grand jury delivered Mueller’s indictments in February, which included three Russian business entities and thirteen Russian individuals. The indictments alleged that several defendants “conspired to commit wire and bank fraud and committed aggravated identity theft,” as well as “victimizing” federal agencies in their “conspiracy.”
A federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia assigned to the case issued summonses for the accused in response to the indictments. The United States government delivered the request to the Russian Office of the Prosecutor General.
In the original summonses, the defendants were to appear before the court on March 20th, but the Russian government dragged its feet and took “no further steps” to serve the business or the individuals involved, according to the special counsel’s office in the request for the postponement of the hearing they submitted Friday.
Concord Management and Consulting was one of the entities controlled by Russian businessman Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who was named in one of the indictments handed down by Mueller’s grand jury in February. His businesses were accused of helping to fund the “troll farms” and “fake accounts” that “flooded social media” during the 2016 campaign.
Mueller’s office was beset on April 11th by two attorneys with the Washington D.C. firm Reed Smith, who entered appearances on behalf of Concord Management and Consulting. They attempted to initiate discovery for the accused, asking Mueller’s office for a massive amount of information. Mueller’s filing stated that they did not receive confirmation that the lawyers were “authorized to receive service” of the summonses.
Dubelier and Seikaly also requested “information about more than 70 years of American foreign policy,” including each time the United States itself may have attempted to interfere in foreign elections, according to Mueller’s filing.
Mueller’s office sent Concord’s summons to its attorneys on April 20 along with a request to clarify whether they could accept a summons on behalf of their client. The attorneys did not answer the question and instead sent the summons back to Mueller’s office, claiming it did not comply with the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Mueller’s team maintains in their Friday postponement filing that in sending the summons to the attorneys, they complied with everything that was required of it to “properly serve the company.”
They asked that the judge postpone the hearing until the lawyers answer whether they have been authorized to accept summons on behalf of Concord.
Mueller’s office states in their filing, “Acceptance of service is ordinarily an indispensable precondition providing assurance that a defendant will submit to the jurisdiction of the court, obey its orders and comply with any judgment. Here, proper service is disputed. It would not be an efficient use of resources to conduct proceedings against Concord clouded by the question whether Concord has been properly served.”
The motion to postpone the court date has been DENIED by the judge. The hearing will start on May 9th.
Who is the Judge in this Case?
The judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was nominated by President Trump in May of 2017 and confirmed by the Senate in December that year. She is one of the few Republican nominated judges on that panel as Obama was able to pack in nine of his nominations into the court with only eleven active positions.
President Trump had four positions to fill when he took office in 2017 though, and managed to get Friedrich through after a seven month confirmation process. He was aided by adviser Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the conservative lawyers’ group the Federalist Society, in choosing many of his nominations for the vacancies on the federal courts in 2017.
This setback for Special Counsel Robert Mueller is another in a long line of defeats he has suffered this week, with two disgraced FBI officials resigning with the looming Inspector General report and the Manafort judge demolishing his prosecutorial team’s arguments only a day before this most recent setback on Saturday.