(…) A newly released transcript reveals details of a humiliating hearing that took place the day before Mueller’s puzzling press conference. The judge asked the prosecutor, “Can you address also the specific tie to the Russian government, which is the overarching comment that the attorney general made tying both this case and then the case involving the hacking and the release of the e-mails, the GRU case, to the Russian government?”
Buckle up, buttercup, because you’re not going to believe DOJ’s response: “The report doesn’t say that.” What? I thought we “knew” that the Russian government committed an act of war by posting politically charged information on the internet. Now the DOJ is backing away from any tie between the internet troll farm and the Russian government?
The DOJ has now admitted that the Mueller report “itself does not state anywhere that the Russian government was behind the Internet Research Agency [and Concord] activity.” Whoa. The judge then asked, “So it is the government’s position that tying Concord and its co-defendants to the Russian government is not prejudicial?”
In the subsequent order, Judge Freidrich wrote: “On May 29, 2019, following the Court’s hearing, the Special Counsel held a press conference…[in which he] carefully distinguished between the efforts by ‘Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military’ and the efforts of” Concord. This, the Judge found, made the criminal contempt proceedings she contemplated against Mueller’s team “unnecessary and excessive under the circumstances.”
A narrow escape it was indeed. Freidrich found that both the release of the Mueller report and Barr’s statements boosting the report violated DC Rule 57.7 prohibiting lawyers from trying cases in the press. Judge Freidrich rejected the government’s argument that the Mueller report did not smear Concord with unproven links to the Russian government.
(…) With the benefit of these newly unsealed documents from Judge Freidrich’s court, we now can see that Mueller’s May 29, 2019 press conference, held the day after the hearing on Concord’s contempt motion, must have been a desperate but successful effort to avoid the wrath of a judge whose authority Mueller insulted by “concluding” the guilt of defendants yet to be tried. And in that desperate effort, the U.S. government threw overboard the key assumption that the Russian government (as opposed to freelancing Russians) was behind the dubious internet troll case.” (Read more: The Federalist, 7/11/2019)