One of the Russian companies indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller over its alleged involvement in a troll farm scheme during the 2016 general election filed a motion on Thursday invoking the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies character, Tweety Bird.
Sylvester the Cat‘s tormentor’s name is misspelled in the footnote in the defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment mocking Mueller’s attempts to charge Concord Management and Consulting LLC with violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and Foreign Election Commission Act (FECA), but the reference does get the character’s catchphrase correct.
Aside from the paean to creators Bob Clampett and Friz Freleng, the motion to dismiss sets the tone early on with the following attack on Mueller’s recently revised charging documents:
To summarize: WRONG ANSWER. Concord has consistently argued that the Indictment charges no crime at all (interference with an election), but to the extent it purports to charge a crime the essential element of willfulness is fatally absent. The Special Counsel’s retort has been that he was not required to charge willfulness because he did not charge violations of FECA or FARA. Now, in mind-bending, intergalactic, whiplash fashion, he says for the first time, I did, I did, I charged violations of FECA and FARA. Reminiscent of the old adage, “Give a man enough rope and he will hang himself,” the Special Counsel just did so.
At the heart of Thursday’s defense motion is the argument that Mueller’s original indictment–returned by a grand jury against Concord Management and various other entities on February 16, 2018–didn’t actually allege a violation of any crime cognizable under federal U.S. law. But rather, Concord’s attorneys claim, Mueller essentially leveled a vague charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States divorced from any statutory authority or crime.
The Russian firm’s attorneys disdainfully note, “the Special Counsel cobbles together disparate allegations in the Indictment to try to meet what is needed [for conspiracy]…a showing that Concord or the other Defendants owed statutorily-mandated FECA reporting or FARA registration duties, and knew those statutes and duties existed and what they required. The flaws in that effort, however, are apparent.”
The motion goes on to cite some case law in support of the idea that a motion to dismiss based on the government’s failure to state a charge must rely on the “unique allegations” and “language used” in the original indictment because the Fifth Amendment’s grand jury and due process guarantees are intertwined.
The defense filing continues with another sarcastic rejoinder to Mueller’s latest supplemental brief:
The fact that the Court found it necessary, after hundreds of pages of briefing and extensive oral argument, to ask the Special Counsel what the Indictment actually charged, alone supports dismissal. The Special Counsel’s revisionist explanations of what he now says the Indictment provides cannot be considered by the Court to determine if the Indictment charges a crime.
Concord Management’s attorney Eric Dubelier spends most of the motion arguing that his clients lacked both knowledge of–and willfulness to violate–either the FECA or FARA statutes.
The motion also rubbishes Mueller’s attempts as a “make-believe…conspiracy” and concludes:
[The indictment] must be dismissed because the grand jury was not properly instructed as to the essential element of intent and further because [it] does not actually charge the crime that the Special Counsel claims he indicted
[image via SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images]