DOJ moves to drop charges against 2 Russian shell companies indicted during Mueller’s investigation
A year has passed since former special counsel Robert Mueller delivered his final report for the Russia investigation, but Mueller’s indictment of two shell companies accused of promoting Russian interference in the United States’ 2016 presidential election remained. On Monday, March 16, however, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) moved to drop the federal charges the companies have been facing.
In 2018, Katie Benner and Sharon LaFraniere report in the Washington Post, Mueller’s team “secured” an indictment against the Russian shell companies, Concord Management and Concord Consulting, as well as 13 Russians and the company Internet Research Agency. According to Benner and LaFraniere, Concord Management and Concord Consulting responded to the indictment differently than the others: rather than fighting the charges, the companies “seized on the case to obtain confidential information from prosecutors, then mount a campaign of information warfare, a senior Justice Department official said.”
The case was set to go to trial in April, but according to that DOJ official, prosecutors pushed for dropping the case because they feared that sensitive information could be made public.
In a motion filed in federal court on March 16, prosecutors warned, “Concord has been eager and aggressive in using the judicial system to gather information about how the United States detects and prevents foreign election interference.” The judge granted that motion.
However, DOJ prosecutors are asserting that dropping the charges against Concord Management and Concord Consulting isn’t meant to bury Mueller’s work in the Russia investigation — and have pointed out that the charges against the other defendants (including the Internet Research Agency) will remain.
When Mueller testified before Congress during the Summer of 2019, he warned that the Russian government under President Vladimir Putin had every intention of trying to interfere in the United States’ 2020 presidential election. And many media outlets have reported that Putin and his allies would much rather see President Donald Trump reelected than see either Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont or former Vice President Joe Biden in the White House in 2021.