RTH10260 wrote: ↑
Thu Jan 31, 2019 8:05 am
Hmmm - in whose emails and documents did they find the smoking gun? Or did NSA and CIA have some new information?
They were tweeted in October by a new Twitter account who tried to attract journalists with the most yawn-inducing documents to make it look like Mueller has found nothing. There may be some supplementary classified information confirming that in the ex parte
filing referenced in the Government's brief, but what's in the public filing is damning enough. Not only did the documents have document control numbers internal to the Special Counsel's Office as part of the discovery process - proving that they must have come from the discovery turned over to Concord's attorneys - but then Concord's attorneys called Mueller's office the very next day after the tweet making the documents available claiming they were getting inquiries from journalists regarding the documents. And then the attorneys claimed that the documents probably came from a previous hack of the Internet Research Agency that took place in 2014, apparently not knowing that the inclusion of the document control numbers renders that assertion 100% provably false. And it doesn't sound like any journalists bit on the tweets to begin with, which makes me suspect that the lawyers' claim that they were being contacted by journalists about the documents was also false.
I'll try to break this down more comprehensively for the non-lawyers.
Non-sensitive discovery documents were turned over in discovery from the SCO to Concord's attorneys at Reed Smith LLP. Currently those documents are subject to a protective order limiting their dissemination by the attorneys. Concord is continuing to request that documents the government deems sensitive be turned over, and then that Concord be permitted to distribute those sensitive documents to any employee, manager, or investor of Concord inside the Russian Federation - which is tantamount to giving them permission to disseminate those documents to anyone they want. The government is opposing that motion.
It is also important to note that while Concord Management is fighting this case in court, none of the actual individuals who have been indicted have deigned to appear in court, and are content to remain in Russia, safely beyond the reach of American courts. So there's already a suspicion that Concord's ultimate puppetmaster - the Russian intelligence community - is deliberately exploiting the discovery process to obtain documents for the purposes of propaganda, disinformation, or intelligence-gathering.
Meanwhile, in October, a newly-constituted Twitter account (which I would bet lots of money originated in Russia) tweeted a link to a file-sharing page containing selected documents from that discovery - complete with the SCO tracking numbers - as well as additional extraneous, irrelevant files having nothing to do with the investigation. Mueller's office suspects that whoever did this was deliberately releasing the most boring, least-incriminating documents, as well as the outside documents, to make it appear as if the investigation has found nothing and is, in fact, a witch hunt. The discovery documents that leaked were not sensitive, but they were still subject to a protective order limiting their dissemination, and Concord's attorneys are required as officers of the court to abide by that order unless and until it is lifted. Given that Mueller's office hasn't turned those documents over to anyone else, the only logical conclusion is that there has been a violation of the protective order by defense counsel.
The very next day
, one of Concord's lawyers - almost certainly Mr. Dubelier - reached out to the SCO claiming that journalists were inquiring to him about documents available on Twitter which appeared to be from the SCO. Defense counsel assured the SCO that their files were secure (i.e., no one had hacked Reed Smith, which I'm sure is a relief to Reed Smith's other clients) and hypothesized that the documents on Twitter were actually from 2014, when Concord's servers were supposedly and conveniently hacked. The presence of SCO tracking numbers of the documents falsifies that claim.
Several American journalists, including two from Think Progress, have said they were contacted by someone wanting to encourage publication of the leaked discovery documents. None of them appear to have done so, and it isn't immediately clear that any journalists even took the step of contacting Reed Smith for confirmation of the documents' authenticity or to request comment. This raises the real possibility that Concord's lawyers knew exactly what had happened, and concoted the story about news inquiries in advance.
The conduct by Concord's American attorneys throughout this case has been atrocious. They either knew or should have known what their client was doing with the discovery. Given the judge's previous rebuke of Atty. Dubelier, I don't think this is going to sit at all well with the court. And even if the judge lets it slide, an aggressive prosecutor here might consider whether these attorneys are wittingly or unwittingly the agents of a foreign power in their own right and outside what is permitted for a lawyer defending a client. I could make an argument for indicting them for either FARA violations or Conspiracy Against the United States. That's very unlikely, but criminal contempt of court for blowing off the protective order would be a piece of cake to prove at this point.
I hope that helps.