Mueller-targeted Russian firm seeks April 2020 trial

By Darren Samuelsohn

A Russian firm charged with interfering in the 2016 presidential election has proposed an April 2020 trial — smack in the middle of the next White House campaign.

The suggested schedule, which was proposed jointly with federal prosecutors, emerged during a hearing Tuesday before U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich in Washington, D.C. The Donald Trump-appointed federal judge still must sign off on the trial date for the case.

The trial would test special counsel Robert Mueller’s allegations that the Russian firm, Concord Management and Consulting, financed and organized an army of internet trolls to try and sow discord in the U.S. and sway the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.

Mueller filed the charges in February 2018 against the St. Petersburg-based Concord and two other Russian businesses, as well as 13 Russian individuals. So far, however, only Concord has fought the charges in court, hiring a U.S.-based law firm to represent the company.

During Tuesday’s hearing, attorneys for Concord and DOJ walked through a series of proposed deadlines over the next eight months leading up to the suggested April trial, which includes a discovery process that could unveil a range of evidence, sensitive documents and pretrial motions.

Both sides told the judge they had agreed they could present the entire case to a jury within a month, though Concord defense counsel Eric Dubelier also said he was concerned the government’s efforts could take longer than prosecutors are projecting. Prosecutors anticipated needing two to three weeks to present the Mueller-lodged case at trial, DOJ attorney Jonathan Kravis said.

Yet to be determined is just how much time it will take to seat a jury of 12 D.C. residents, a potentially freighted process given the significant media coverage of Mueller’s charges and his probe into the 2016 election.

The Concord case is one of two active legal matters tied to the Mueller probe, which concluded in March. The other centers around longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, whose trial on charges of lying to Congress, obstructing justice and witness tampering is scheduled to begin in November.