The U.S. Justice Department has moved to drop its case against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities who were indicted as part of the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election, The Washington Post reports.
In a court filing, prosecutors accused one of those companies, Concord Management and Consulting, LLC, of taking advantage of the U.S. legal process and discovery to try to harm national security. Concord is owned by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch called “Putin’s chef” by the Western press because of his numerous catering contracts with the government.
Prigozhin is alleged in the indictment as having funded and directed the defendants’ election interference campaign.
Notably, the filing continued to say that based on consideration of these circumstances, “and particularly in light of recent events and a change in the balance of the government’s proof due to a classification determination,” and other details outlined in a classified addendum to the filing, the Justice Department decided to drop its case.
The filing said prosecutors came to the decision after determining that Concord has no presence in the U.S. and “no exposure to meaningful punishment in the event of a conviction” and that a case against the company would not serve justice or national security.
Mueller’s charges in this case were directed primarily at the Internet Research Agency (IRA), an infamous Russian “troll factory” located in St. Petersburg that focused on sowing political discord during the 2016 race by using Russian bots to spread fake news and pro-Trump propaganda on Facebook, Twitter, and other social-media platforms.
The 13 Russian nationals charged were indicted for working in “various capacities to carry out” the agency’s “interference operations targeting the United States.”