Lawyer for Russian firm run by ‘Putin’s chef’ attacks Mueller’s office

Lawyer for Russian firm run by ‘Putin’s chef’ attacks Mueller’s office

By Gary Gately   
Published
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, in November 2017. The office of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has indicted close Putin associate Viktorovich Prigozhin, nicknamed "Putin's chef," on charges of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Photo courtesy of the Russian Presidential Executive Office)

WASHINGTON — An attorney representing a Russian company accused of funding efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election angrily attacked lawyers for Special Prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III Wednesday.

Eric Dubelier  who represents the Russia-based Concord Management and Consulting, founded by Viktorovich Prigozhin, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin  told a federal judge in Washington that Mueller’s lawyers ignored requests for information for more than five weeks and now plan a “data dump” of the equivalent of hundreds of millions of pages of evidence.

Dubelier, a U.S.-based attorney, told District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich, an appointee of President Donald Trump, that Mueller’s attorneys had told defense attorneys Friday that they plan to provide defense attorneys the staggering amount of information, most of it in Russian.

“We’re going to get this massive dump of social media stuff that’s in Russian,” Dubelier said at the hearing. “This is an American court. … That’s not what we asked for. What I’d like to get is information that actually helps us defend our client.”

But prosecutor Jeannie Rhee told Friedrich that the voluminous amount of information is pertinent evidence to prove  Mueller’s office’s allegation that social media accounts had been created under false IDs as part of an attempt to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

“It is not a data dump, Your Honor,” Rhee said. “That it’s so voluminous just underscores the vastness of the … conduct in this case.”

More acrimonious exchanges occurred after Rhee said Dubelier had hung up on prosecutors last week after nine minutes during a call between the two sides that had been scheduled to last an hour.

Dubelier disputed Rhee’s claim and said both sides agreed to end the call. “That’s different than hanging up the phone on somebody,” he said, adding, “I resent the implication that the special prosecutor has made.”

Dubelier also pledged to challenge Mueller’s authority to bring the case.

In February, Mueller’s office indicted Prigozhin, nicknamed “Putin’s chef” for his close ties to the Russian president, his company, 12 other individuals and two other companies.

Prigozhin pleaded not guilty at an arraignment last week.

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