Tags: mueller | russia | troll case

Mueller Denies Taking Legal Short-Cut in Russian Troll Case

Mueller Denies Taking Legal Short-Cut in Russian Troll Case
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By    |   Monday, 04 June 2018 09:29 AM

Special counsel Robert Mueller's office is denying a Russian company's contention that prosecutors are improperly trying to make an end-run around the high legal standard usually applied in criminal cases connected to federal election law in order to win a case that Russian businesses and individuals illegally interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Politico reported on Monday.

Typically, prosecutors have to prove that a defendant charged in such a case acted "willfully," meaning that the defendant did the act on purpose and knowing that it would violate the law.

But in the February indictment against St. Petersburg-based Concord Management and Consulting, the company isn't charged directly with violating American election law but with "conspiracy to defraud the United States," which is a much broad charge concerning an alleged attempt to interfere with a federal agency.

Prosecutors contend that they can prove this type of charge without meeting the high "willful" standard and instead just demonstrate a lower one that the defendants acted intentionally.

Mueller's office appears to suggest that they aren't trying to swap a conspiracy charge for a campaign finance law violation charge and note, for example, that one can be convicted of visa fraud under a lower "knowing" standard, not involving "willfulness."

Mueller's office has accused Concord Management of funding the Russian conspiracy that favored President Donald Trump's candidacy and using online accounts posing as Americans to distribute propaganda, according to CNN.

Last month the company said in a court filing that the charges against it are a "make-believe crime" and accused Mueller of trying to "justify his own existence" and needing "to indict a Russian - any Russian" for political reasons.

In arguments echoing claims made by the Trump administration, the company said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has "rejected the history and integrity of the DOJ, and instead licensed a Special Counsel who for all practical political purposes cannot be fired, to indict a case that has absolutely nothing to do with any links or coordination between any candidate and the Russian Government," CNN reported.

Lawyer are divided over the controversy, according to Politico, with some finding the government's tactic troubling because it seems to override Congress's decision to impose a higher standard for particular crimes.

However, other legal experts said Mueller's team probably has more legal precedent on its side for its contention, although the argument put forward by the Russian firm is one that a couple of appeals courts have suggested may have some validity.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller's office is denying a Russian company's contention that prosecutors are improperly trying to make an end-run around the high legal standard usually applied in criminal cases.
mueller, russia, troll case
412
2018-29-04
Monday, 04 June 2018 09:29 AM
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