Non-public information gathered by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team in the investigation of Russian company Concord Management and Consulting and shared during discovery, was manipulated and made accessible by a pro-Russian Twitter account in an effort to discredit Mueller’s Russian probe, Justice Department court documents revealed Wednesday.
The filing asked the court not to grant Concord’s attorneys approval to disclose what Mueller’s team deemed sensitive documents to the company’s officers and employees in preparation for trial, citing heightened government concerns after “the apparent release and manipulation of information produced to Concord as ‘non-sensitive’discovery in this case.”
Concord Management and Consulting is one of three Russian organizations and 13 nationals charged last February by Mueller with leveraged social media to sow division and influence the 2016 presidential election, with some of the activity intended to bolster then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and erode support for his opponent former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a 37-page indictment filed at the time.
The organizations were accused of running afoul of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) that “prohibits foreign nationals from making any contributions expenditures, independent expenditures or disbursements for electioneering communications,” are charged with identity theft and other fraudulent activities for presenting themselves as Americans on social media platforms.
Last October, “one or more actors made statements claiming to have a stolen copy of discovery produced by the government in this case,” the government said Thursday. “The subsequent investigation has revealed that certain non-sensitive discovery materials in the defense’s possession appear to have been altered and disseminated as part of a disinformation campaign aimed (apparently) at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. political system.”
Prosecutors said that action establishes “a use of the non-sensitive discovery in this case in a manner inconsistent with the terms of the protective order,” demonstrating “the risks of permitting sensitive discovery to reside outside the confines of the United States.”
The Twitter account, @HackingRedstone, which was attached to an IP address in Russia and published a website where the Mueller probe information could be accessed, has since been shuttered.