- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2020

The Justice Department filed a motion Monday to dismiss charges against Concord Management and Consulting, a Russian company accused of bankrolling schemes to meddle in the 2016 election.

Federal prosecutors said in a court filing that pursuing the case could expose American law-enforcement methods they’d prefer to keep under wraps.

“The risk of exposure to law enforcement’s tools and techniques, and the post-indictment change in the proof available at trial, the balance of equities has shifted,” they wrote. “It is no longer in the best interests of justice or the country’s national security to continue this prosecution.”

Concord had been using the case as a means to gather intelligence about how the United States combats foreign election interference, the prosecutors alleged.

“Concord has been eager and aggressive in using the judicial system to gather information about how the United States detects and prevents foreign election interference,” the filing said.

It is a stunning reversal that just weeks before the case was set to head to trial.

Concord Management was among 13 Russian individuals and two companies charged in 2018 by former special counsel Robert Mueller. The government said they used social media to sow discord and spread disinformation to undermine the 2016 election.

Concord Management, owned by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, is accused of bankrolling a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency. It was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Mr. Prigozhin was nicknamed “Putin’s Chef” for his close relationship with the Russian president.

Although others ignored the charges, Concord fought Mr. Mueller’s team in court. But instead of defending itself, Concord used the case as a means to obtain secret information about how the government detected the purported meddling.

Prosecutors worried about sharing in discovery a trove of documents with Concord that detailed government sources and methods. Fears that Concord will make the information public were raised by prosecutors in earlier court filings.

Several non-classified documents that prosecutors turned over to Concord’s defense team ended up on a website last fall, angering the Justice Department.

All told, more than a thousand files were posted on the website, prosecutors said.

At the time, the documents were even promoted on a newly-created Twitter account hyping the material as access to Mr. Mueller’s secret database.

Prosecutors said Monday such tricks made the case run counter to the government’s interests, especially given its limited ability to punish a Russian corporation.

“The government has concluded that further proceedings as to Concord, a Russian company with no presence in the United States and exposure to a meaningful punishment in the event of a conviction, promotes neither the interests of justice nor the nation’s security,” they wrote.

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