Special Counsel Robert Mueller got some more judicial support, when a federal judge shot down a challenge to his authority in the criminal case against Russian companies accused of orchestrating operations meant to interfere with the 2016 election. Concord Management and Consulting claimed that Mueller’s appointment was unconstitutional, and that the indictment was improper because the companies aren’t part of the Russian government.
In a 41-page ruling Monday morning, Judge Dabney L. Friedrich denied the motion, stating that Mueller’s appointment was proper, and that his investigation is allowed to target entities that are not part of the Russian government.
Concord Management’s main argument against Mueller’s appointment centered on the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, claiming that Mueller was not nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, nor was he appointed via Congressional approval. Judge Friedrich countered this, stating that because Mueller is merely an “inferior officer,” who is overseen and supervised by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, he did not need to be confirmed by the Senate. Additionally, Friedrich noted that Supreme Court precedent from 1974’s Nixon v. United States shows that Congress has vested Acting Attorney Generals (like Rosenstein, who is Acting AG in the Russia probe due to Jeff Sessions‘ recusal) with the authority to appoint “subordinate officers” such as “a Special Prosecutor with unique authority and tenure” like Mueller.
This is just the latest time that this argument against Mueller’s appointment has failed. Roger Stone aide Andrew Miller tried it, only to be shot down earlier this month.
As far as not being part of the Russian government, the judge said that doesn’t matter.
“The appointment order … does not limit the Special Counsel to investigating individuals and entities that are part of the Russian government,” Friedrich wrote. “Rather, the Special Counsel may investigate the Russian government’s interference “efforts,” which involved non-governmental third parties.”
Now that the judge has rejected Concord’s motion to dismiss, the case will be allowed to progress towards trial.
[Image via Andrew Burton/Getty Images]