Judge rejects request by Russian firm to review Mueller's grand jury instructions

Special counsel Robert Mueller's team scored a procedural victory Friday in its case against a Russian company accuse...

Posted: Jun 16, 2018 11:20 AM
Updated: Jun 16, 2018 11:20 AM

Special counsel Robert Mueller's team scored a procedural victory Friday in its case against a Russian company accused of bankrolling a vast campaign to meddle in the 2016 election, successfully fighting back an effort to review the instructions given to grand jury before it indicted the company.

Federal Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected a request by the Russian company, Concord Management and Consulting, that asked her to examine the instructions provided to the grand jury. Concord accused Mueller's prosecutors of giving faulty instructions, tainting the grand jury's decision to approve charges.

Concord had sought the judge's review of the grand jury instructions so it could later build an argument alleging due process violations. The company plans to eventually file a motion to drop the indictment.

The judge also signaled that a protective order would ultimately be imposed in the case as the discovery phase begins and both sides start sifting through millions of digital records. Mueller's team had asked for a sweeping protective order that would restrict how Concord handles documents and what would get shared with the other defendants. But Friedrich said she preferred a middle-ground approach.

The proceedings played out at an hour-long hearing at the DC federal courthouse as a more prominent drama unfolded in the same building: the hearing to determine whether former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort would be sent back to jail after getting hit with new charges last week.

The company was indicted in February alongside two other Russian companies, a prominent Russian oligarch and 12 other Russians that worked for the firms. The indictment accused the companies of operating a Kremlin-backed troll farm that created and disseminated propaganda on US social media to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Concord has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy.

US-based lawyers for Concord, led by Eric Dubelier, argued that prosecutors needed to explicitly tell the grand jury that Concord knew the US laws and knew that its actions violated those statutes. But Friedrich noted that the defense never established, for sure, that the jury received instructions at all.

"I see no need to breach the secrecy of the grand jury," Friedrich said after peppering the defense with questions about their request. "Breaching the secrecy of the grand jury is not an easy thing to do."

Later in the hearing, Friedrich made it clear that there would be a protective order to regulate how the government provides discovery materials to Concord's lawyers. Mueller's team previously asked the judge to prevent Concord from sharing materials with its Russian co-defendants because of fears that the information could be used by Russian intelligence in future operations against the United States.

"The government has demonstrated good cause to protect some of the discovery," Friedrich said.

Friedrich, a Trump appointee, said she was "trying to get discovery off the ground" and instructed both sides to quickly reach an agreement, before the weekend, on how to handle non-sensitive documents. In a joint filing Friday afternoon, the two sides proposed an interim deal to share documents without putting national security at risk. As part of the deal, documents would be password-protected, Concord's lawyers would need to keep sensitive files off Internet-connected devices and Concord could not share these materials with anyone beyond their legal team.

But a lot of the materials include sensitive information, like stolen Social Security numbers or details that could identify people that are helping the government with its case. For this information, Friedrich told both sides to reach an agreement within 10 days or else she would come up with a deal on her own.

For the sensitive materials, Friedrich said she saw "areas of common ground" and said someone from the Justice Department should act as "firewall counsel" and review the documents on behalf of Concord. But Friedrich said the "firewall counsel" should not come from the special counsel's office.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 87807

Reported Deaths: 2002
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin25454917
Ramsey10349316
Dakota6995125
Anoka5596132
Stearns367023
Washington349255
Scott236632
Olmsted225327
Nobles192016
Blue Earth15566
Wright14937
Carver13197
Rice12908
St. Louis128229
Mower12614
Clay121340
Sherburne106313
Kandiyohi9112
Winona82818
Lyon6344
Steele5132
Freeborn5043
Nicollet49516
Watonwan4954
Benton4923
Todd4722
Le Sueur4413
McLeod4382
Waseca4228
Chisago4211
Crow Wing41018
Otter Tail3734
Beltrami3654
Goodhue3219
Martin2909
Itasca26413
Polk2624
Becker2372
Pine2360
Isanti2340
Carlton2311
Douglas2291
Cottonwood2140
Pipestone2089
Morrison1901
Dodge1880
Chippewa1851
Sibley1693
Meeker1662
Wabasha1660
Unassigned16552
Brown1642
Murray1492
Rock1450
Yellow Medicine1442
Mille Lacs1363
Faribault1290
Jackson1251
Cass1233
Renville1206
Roseau1090
Pennington1081
Fillmore1050
Houston1040
Swift1041
Kanabec1008
Koochiching1003
Lincoln950
Redwood930
Stevens901
Pope820
Hubbard710
Aitkin691
Big Stone660
Wadena610
Grant574
Wilkin553
Norman510
Lake480
Marshall481
Mahnomen451
Lac qui Parle410
Red Lake370
Traverse290
Clearwater240
Lake of the Woods201
Kittson130
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 78552

Reported Deaths: 1255
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15133256
Johnson496227
Woodbury486561
Black Hawk431686
Linn3722105
Story326317
Scott271227
Dubuque266140
Dallas265338
Pottawattamie195137
Buena Vista193312
Marshall175634
Sioux12753
Wapello124357
Webster118414
Muscatine105452
Clinton104618
Plymouth100120
Cerro Gordo98621
Crawford9804
Warren9226
Jasper74232
Des Moines7247
Marion7014
Tama68531
Carroll6275
Henry5974
Lee5857
Wright5571
Dickinson4756
Bremer4597
Boone4557
Washington42711
Louisa41915
Franklin33117
Mahaska32619
Delaware3183
Hamilton3143
Jackson2923
Floyd2913
Winneshiek2835
Benton2781
Clay2773
Hardin2731
Winnebago26211
Butler2572
Clarke2533
Emmet24810
Shelby2411
Jones2393
Allamakee2375
Poweshiek2368
Lyon2323
Buchanan2291
Clayton2273
Cedar2171
Guthrie2115
Kossuth2090
Chickasaw2030
Grundy2002
Madison1992
Sac1980
Cherokee1792
Howard1795
Iowa1791
Fayette1781
Mitchell1750
Hancock1712
Harrison1692
Humboldt1693
Calhoun1672
Mills1621
Palo Alto1560
Pocahontas1502
Monroe14410
Page1410
Lucas1386
Jefferson1321
Cass1282
Monona1281
Osceola1210
Appanoose1193
Taylor1191
Union1193
Davis1134
Van Buren1081
Worth1000
Keokuk891
Montgomery855
Ida840
Greene820
Fremont790
Wayne792
Adair621
Decatur580
Audubon551
Ringgold412
Adams270
Unassigned150
Rochester
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 51°
Mason City
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 50°
Albert Lea
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 54°
Austin
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 52°
Charles City
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 50°
Warmer Weather Ahead
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Saturday Weather

Image

What are the benefits of bringing football back to Minnesota this fall?

Image

Candlelight vigil for Prisoners of War

Image

MC Masters National Championship Regatta

Image

Early voting begins in Minnesota

Image

Dooley's Pub closes due to health hazards

Image

Area athletic directors prep to welcome back sports

Image

Early voting begins in Minnesota

Image

TikTok Ban to Begin This Weekend

Image

Sara's Evening Forecast - Friday

Community Events