Special counsel Robert Mueller is nowhere near done issuing indictments based on a protective order he filed Tuesday in an attempt to shield certain evidence from Russian operatives.
Mueller wants to limit how much evidence is shared from his case against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations that took part in a widespread effort to spread misinformation digitally during the 2016 election. Business Insider writes:
In its motion on Tuesday, Mueller’s office cited the risk of revealing to Russian intelligence the identities of “uncharged individuals and entities” believed to be “continuing to engage in interference operations” in the US.
“The evidence in this case will also include numerous reports and affidavits filed in connection with this investigation that describe investigative steps, identify uncharged co-conspirators, and disclose various law enforcement and intelligence collection techniques,” the document said.
The motion was filed in response to a demand last month from Concord Management and Consulting, one of the firms charged in February, that the US government turn over 51 categories of information to the defense to help it prepare for trial. (emphasis added)
But Concord isn’t just any company. It was founded by Russian businessman Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who purportedly funded the Russian troll-farm effort and maintains ties with Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence officials. One could see how Concord/Prigozhin getting too many insights about Mueller’s methods and leads might not behoove the investigation.
As former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti notes: “Mueller is concerned about the Russian government obtaining information that they can use to conduct operations to undermine U.S. elections and evade detection from U.S. law enforcement and counterintelligence.”
Mariotti also points out how unusual this case is in the sense that because the defendants are Russians residing outside the U.S., none of them have actually appeared in court—only their lawyers have.
“Mueller wants to prevent the lawyers for the Russian company from showing the materials to any Russian co-defendant, because none of them are in court,” he writes.