Reed Smith Lawyers Move to Hold Barr, Mueller in Contempt in Russia Case

Reed Smith offices in Washington, D.C. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ ALM

The Reed Smith lawyers defending a Russian company indicted in the special counsel investigation are pushing to have U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Robert Mueller III held in contempt over the release of a redacted version of the special counsel’s report last week.

Lawyers for Concord Management and Consulting asked U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich of the District of Columbia to order the government to show cause as to why Barr and Mueller shouldn’t be held in contempt for violating a local criminal rule. Reed Smith argued in its Thursday filing that the release of the 448-page report interfered with Concord’s right to a fair trial by “releasing prohibited information and opinions regarding the guilt of the accused.”

“The practical effect of the broadside by AG Barr and SC Mueller on Concord was to advise the world (including potential jurors) that the allegations in the indictment are true and that the defendants in this case were operating as part of a Russian-government led interference campaign expressly linked to the allegations in United States v. Netyksho,” Reed Smith partner Eric Dubelier said in the filing. “This despite the fact that the indictment contains no such allegation.”

“Moreover, the statements of AG Barr and the report authored by SC Mueller are devoid of the demonstrably provable fact that of the nearly 4 million documents produced in discovery to date there is not a single document to indicate that the defendants were aware of the Federal Election Campaign Act or the Foreign Agents Registration Act,” Dubelier added.

The filing notes that Reed Smith partner Katherine Seikaly also requested a federal prosecutor handling the case in March to disclose any exculpatory material.

“With respect to your email dated March 12, 2019, the government is not aware of any exculpatory evidence,” Jonathan Kravis, an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., wrote back, according to the filing. “As Concord has noted in its filings, including its motion to dismiss for failure to state an offense under 18 USC 371, the absence of certain information from the target accounts (such as information reflecting an awareness of the requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act or the Foreign Agents Registration Act) could be viewed as exculpatory.”

For weeks, the two sides have quibbled in court papers and proceedings over how to handle voluminous amounts of sensitive discovery in the case. Concord is fighting charges that it participated in a scheme to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election.

Concord was the only one among a group of Russian nationals and companies indicted in July 2018 to answer to the charges brought by the special counsel’s office. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., is now handling the case.

The Justice Department did not immediately return requests for comment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. declined to comment.

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