Mueller Warns Of Ongoing Russian ‘Influence Operations’
Special counsel Robert Mueller warned on Tuesday that Russian intelligence services are engaged in ongoing “influence operations” similar to those used during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Mueller made the claim in a court filing for a case against Concord Management, a Russian-controlled company indicted in February for its alleged role in a massive Russian social media campaign that targeted U.S. voters.
In the court filing, Mueller asked a federal judge to withhold certain documents from discovery in order to avoid providing information that could end up in the hands of the Russian government.
“Public or unauthorized disclosure of this case’s discovery would result in the release of information that would assist foreign intelligence services, particularly those of the Russian Federation, and other foreign actors in future operations against the United States,” Mueller said in the filing. (RELATED: The ‘Russian Collusion’ Trial Is On, And Mueller May Be The First Casualty)
The evidence collected in the investigation will identify “uncharged individuals and entities that the government believes are continuing to engage in interference operations like those charged in the present indictment,” he said.
A grand jury in Washington, D.C., indicted Concord Management along with two other Russian companies and 13 Russian nationals on Feb. 16. Concord is partially owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman known as “Putin’s Chef” because of his close relationship to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Concord is the only entity charged by Mueller to respond to the indictment. The company entered a not guilty plea to conspiracy charges on May 9, much to the surprise of many court observers. Concord’s challenge to the indictment has forced Mueller’s prosecutors to prepare for trial in both the Russian troll case and in a separate matter involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Manafort has been indicted on a slew of money laundering and conspiracy charges that do not appear to be linked to the 2016 campaign. (RELATED: Mueller Wants To Flood Russian Collusion Case With 2 Terabytes Of Data)
Mueller is asking for a protective order that will limit the information that flows to Concord Management. He is also asking the judge overseeing the case to prohibit discovery materials from going to any of the Russian nationals who have refused to respond to the indictment.
“Discovery in this case contains sensitive information about investigative techniques and cooperating witnesses that goes well beyond the information that will be disclosed at trial,” wrote Mueller. “At a high level, the sensitive-but-unclassified discovery in this case includes information describing the government’s investigative steps taken to identify foreign parties responsible for interfering in U.S. elections; the techniques used by foreign parties to mask their true identities while conducting operations online; the relationships of charged and uncharged parties to other uncharged foreign entities and governments; the government’s evidence-collection capabilities related to online conduct; and the identities of cooperating individuals and, or companies.”