By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) Readers may recall a point during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation a few years back when his crack crew of Democrat-donating prosecutors leveled charges against a dozen or so Russian firms and individuals tied to Moscow’s intelligence services.
The allegations? “Meddling” in the 2016 election.
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With great fanfare, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made the announcement, careful to mention that “no Americans” were linked to the indictments:
The indictment includes eight criminal counts. Count 1 alleges a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States by all of the defendants. The defendants allegedly conspired to defraud America by impairing the lawful functions of the American Election Commission, the United States Department of Justice and the Department of State. Those organizations of the U.S. government are responsible for administering federal requirements for disclosure of foreign involvement in certain domestic activities. Count 2 charges conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud by Internet research agency and two of the individual defendants. And Counts 3 through 8, charge-aggravated identity theft by Internet Research Agency and four individuals. Now there is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. … There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered in the 2016 election.
At the time, we were incredulous. What was the point of indicting these Russians when there was no way any of them were ever going to see the inside of a U.S. courtroom, because Vlad Putin wasn’t going to simply turn them over to the Justice Department.
Conservative talker Rush Limbaugh observed at the time (February 2018): “He repeated, in effect, in these indictments that no Americans are involved, no Americans helped. There is no evidence this helped any particular American or harmed any American. This business that these Russian snakes did rallies for Trump and against Trump on the same day in New York City? Sorry, what are we supposed to take from that?”
In May we reported that Mueller and his team likely stepped in it big time because one of the firms he indicted actually retained U.S. counsel and was going to trial, which would have forced him (and the government) into discovery, a process by which their side gets to look at the ‘evidence’ against them.
At the time of the indictment, we noted that Mueller was already under fire from critics because the evidence of “collusion” between Moscow and the 2016 Trump campaign “was as thin as budget chicken soup.”
Next thing we know, boom….More than a dozen Russians and Russian firms charged with ‘meddling’ in the election.
Well, Mueller came, dropped a report exonerating President Donald Trump and his campaign of “colluding” with Moscow, and the trial involving the Russian firm, Concord Management and Consulting, LLC, never happened.
In fact, as we noted in February of this year, the Justice Department was still dealing with the case.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich in a one-paragraph order sided with federal prosecutors, giving lawyers for the firm Concord Management and Consulting until the end of Friday to explain why their client should not face a civil penalty for missing a deadline to produce documents. Concord is facing charges that it helped fund Russia’s 2016 election meddling efforts.
The Concord trial — scheduled to begin with an initial jury selection hearing on April 1 — represents one of the final outstanding threads from Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
“Upon careful consideration of all of the circumstances, and particularly in light of recent events and a change in the balance of the government’s proof due to a classification determination, as well as other facts described in more detail in a classified addendum to this motion, the government has concluded that further proceedings as to Concord, a Russian company with no presence in the United States and no exposure to meaningful punishment in the event of a conviction, promotes neither the interests of justice nor the nation’s security,” Assistants to U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea of Washington D.C., and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers wrote.
In other words, the Justice Department has acknowledged it spent the past two years, on Mueller’s indictment, messing around with a case everyone knew back in February 2018 was not going to be prosecutable. Further, it certainly appears as though the government is admitting that Mueller’s compromised prosecutors never had any evidence against Concord in the first place.
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It was a ‘show’ indictment that got lots of headlines at the time and certainly advanced the ‘Trump-Russia collusion’ hoax, thanks to the breathless (and inaccurate) reporting of outlets like the Post, POLITICO, The New York Times, etc.
Obviously, Attorney General William Barr figures the DoJ has bigger, actual fish to fry in this case.
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