According to a report at the Atlantic, a filing made by special counsel Robert Mueller's office on Wednesday exposed how Russian operatives are manipulating the court system by selectively leaking out-of-context and fake documents that cast Mueller in a bad light.
The report notes that "a Russian troll farm currently locked in a legal battle over its alleged interference in the 2016 election appeared to wage yet another disinformation campaign late last year—this time targeting Mueller himself."
According to the Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand, Mueller's office turned over 1 million documents to lawyers for Concord Management and Consulting as part of the legal discovery process. Someone at the firm -- which represents Russian troll farm troll farm Internet Research Agency -- then "allegedly manipulated the documents and leaked them to reporters, hoping the documents would make people think that Mueller’s evidence against the troll farm and its owners was flimsy."
"When Mueller indicted Concord in February 2018, along with two other corporate entities and 13 Russian nationals allegedly connected to the Internet Research Agency, it seemed highly unlikely that the indictment would result in a trial, because Russians cannot be extradited to the United States," Bertrand writes. "But Concord unexpectedly hired the well-connected American law firm Reed Smith to fight Mueller, arguing that the charges should be dropped because the special counsel was illegally appointed."
According to the report, the Wednesday Mueller filing accused "unidentified actors working out of Russia" of using the discovery process to leak the documents while adding forged documents into the mix that make it appear that Mueller is also "characterizing American websites and Facebook pages such as Occupy Democrats as Russian disinformation operations."
In an interview, Mark Zaid, a D.C.-based attorney who specializes in national security law, said the latest incident involving Concord is "part of a consistent strategy by the Russians to hinder, obstruct, and derail” the investigation into Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign
“One wonders whether pursuing the criminal charges against the Russians was worth the difficulty and these current problems,” Zaid explained. “Particularly given the odds of ever gaining custody of any individual is unlikely.”
“Our courts act like, and think that, they are operating on the same type of playing field as the Russians,” Michelle Estlund, a criminal-defense attorney, added “But they’re not. The system there is completely different from here. And when the courts are properly responding to what appears to be a legally authorized request for assistance with discovery, often what they’re doing is assisting with an extremely corrupt court proceeding.”
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