A federal judge on Saturday handed special counsel Robert Mueller his first courtroom defeat since being appointed to investigate Russian interference and the Trump campaign last year.
The defeat, while only small, may have huge implications in the future.
Federal District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected Mueller’s motion to delay the first hearing of a criminal case charging that three Russian companies and 13 Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller indicted the companies and persons in February, in what is now known as the Russian “troll farm” case.
The judge offered no explanation as to why she denied Mueller’s request.
As TheBlaze reported on Saturday, Mueller filed a motion in court on Friday to delay the initial hearing. Because those charged are outside U.S. jurisdiction, it was widely believed the charges wouldn’t be challenged. That theory was crushed last month when two attorneys representing one of the companies — Concord Management — made a “slew” of information requests from Mueller’s team.
The sudden requests were believed “to be a bid to force Mueller’s team to turn over relevant evidence to the Russian firm and perhaps even to bait prosecutors into an embarrassing dismissal in order to avoid disclosing sensitive information,” Politico reported.
Arraignment for Concord Management and Consulting — the company whose lawyers are now challenging Mueller — is scheduled for Wednesday. Mueller asked for the delay because the lawyers said Mueller’s court summons was defective and he needed time to ensure it was done legally.
How did the lawyers representing Concord respond?
They took Mueller to task for his actions so far in the case. They claimed Mueller is trying “to usurp the scheduling authority of the court” by waiting until Friday afternoon to request a delay in a hearing scheduled for next Wednesday.
The lawyers also complained that Mueller’s team has refused to provide them with the evidentiary documents they are entitled to as Concord’s counsel, according to Politico. In addition, the lawyers said Concord plans to exercise its speedy trial rights, which further pressures Mueller to turn over the documents.
What are the implications?
If Concord’s attorneys continue to earn small victories in and outside of the courtroom, Mueller’s team will be forced to turn over documents the lawyers requested, giving them an insight into Mueller’s intentions and where his investigation actually stands.
But if he refuses to play ball, the losses will continue to stack up for the special counsel.