- The Washington Times - Friday, January 24, 2020

The Justice Department has the authority to subpoena a Russian company indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, a federal judge ruled Friday.

The decision could shape the evidence the government presents during the April trial of two Russian companies and multiple individuals accused of using social media to sow discord ahead of the 2016 election.

In a rare bench ruling, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich said the subpoena would not violate Russian law. She also ruled the court has the authority to approve the subpoena for a Russian company even if it does not do business in the United States.

The subpoena “does not depend on whether the court has personal jurisdiction over a foreign company,” Judge Friedrich said.

Concord Management, owned by Russian oligarch Yevengy Prigozhin, is accused of bankrolling a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency.

Mr. Mueller indicted Internet Research Agency, Concord Management, Mr. Prigozhin and about two dozen Russian hackers in February 2018. They were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Prosecutors say Mr. Prigozhin, through Concord, financed the IRA’s activities.

Last year, the Justice Department issued a subpoena seeking financial and communication records between Concord and the IRA, which would require access to the company’s Russian computer infrastructure.

Attorneys for Concord asserted the subpoena would violate Russian laws barring the access of computer networks, which can result in a five-year prison sentence.

“Given the conflict with Russian law, recognized principles of comity also weigh against enforcing the subpoena as to these categories,” Concord attorney Eric Dubelier wrote in a filing last month.

Judge Friedrich disagreed, saying Concord had voluntarily appeared in court and thus making it bound to all orders of the court, including discovery and subpoenas.

She also said there corporate information that was not publicly available that could only be obtained through a subpoena.

Neither side responded to Judge Friedrich’s ruling. Instead, they sparred over the length of the upcoming trial.

Mr. Dubelier bristled at prosecutor Luke Jones’ suggestion that the trial would take about two weeks.

“The last time I had the government tell me four weeks, it was four months,” Mr. Dubelier added saying he expected the trial to exceed a month.

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