A “nude selfie” has inserted itself into the ongoing Special Counsel investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign collaborated with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
A Russian company Concord Management and Consulting LLC has filed a memorandum asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to dismiss a request from Special Counsel Robert Mueller to privately share sealed information about Concord with a judge handling the case.
The company is arguing that it should have access to information about how Muller and his team obtained confidential information about Concord, and that the Special Counsel should not be permitted to share this information with a judge without also sharing it with the company’s lawyers.
The Department of Justice, however, often keeps its evidence collection methods secret for national security reasons. The information about Concord is no exception.
“Could the manner in which he [Special Counsel Mueller] collected a nude selfie really threaten the national security of the United States?” asked attorneys for Concord in a memorandum filed in the Washington D.C. District Court on Thursday.
Robert Mueller testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the FBI. Tom Williams/Getty Images
The court is expected to determine that it is in the U.S. national security interest to keep Mueller’s data collection methods a secret from Concord and its lawyers, especially given that the company’s owner has close ties to the Russian government.
Concord is one of three Russian companies, including the notorious Russian troll farm the Internet Research Agency, that were indicted by the Special Counsel in February for allegedly attempting to influence the 2016 elections.
Concord Management and Consulting is owned by the same man who ran the Internet Research Agency, a colorful character named Yevgeniy Prigozhin who has been nicknamed “Putin’s chef.”
Prigozhin, who once spent nearly a decade in jail for theft, was running a hot dog stand in St Petersburg, Russia in the 1990s before he eventually formed ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Concord Catering, another of Prigozhin’s companies that was indicted by Mueller, now provides meals for the Kremlin and is believed to have made Prigozhin exceptionally wealthy.
Today, Prigozhin not only runs Concord, but is also believed to be directing the activities of Russian mercenaries in Syria.
It is unclear who is in the nude selfie mentioned in Thursday’s memorandum, but it is likely that the selfie was brought up in order to call attention to the court battle. The memorandum contains flowery language that attacks the Special Counsel and the overall raison d’etre of the Russian investigation.
“In this first-of-its-kind, make-believe case the Special Counsel now seeks to completely obliterate any remaining rights of Concord to defend itself, and in typical fashion provides only completely misleading case authority for the remarkable proposition that he should be able to continue to whisper secrets to the Court,” the memorandum reads.
“Since the Special Counsel has already gotten away with this once as he notes in his Motion, this Opposition is likely fruitless, but object we must both for Concord and every other defendant to whom the Special Counsel believes the laws and rules of the United States no longer apply to his novel adventures,” it continues.