19 March 2020 — Moon of Alabama
The Justice Department dropped its case against a Russian company which was alleged of influencing the 2016 elections. But as one false claim about Russian influence campaigns is now thoroughly debunked new nonsensical claims about alleged Russian influence campaigns arise.
In February 2018 the Mueller investigation of alleged election interference indicted a Russian company and individuals. As we reported at that time:
Yesterday the U.S. Justice Department indicted the Russian Internet Research Agency on some dubious legal grounds. It covers thirteen Russian people and three Russian legal entities. The main count of the indictment is an alleged “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States”.
The published indictment gives support to our long held believe that there was no “Russian influence” campaign during the U.S. election. What is described and denounced as such was instead a commercial marketing scheme which ran click-bait websites to generate advertisement revenue and created online crowds around virtual persona to promote whatever its commercial customers wanted to promote. The size of the operation was tiny when compared to the hundreds of millions in campaign expenditures. It had no influence on the election outcome.
We could claim that because the indictment said in its point 95:
Defendants and their co-conspirators also used the accounts to receive money from real U.S. persons in exchange for posting promotions and advertisements on the ORGANIZATION-controlled social media pages. Defendants and their co-conspirators typically charged certain U.S. merchants and U.S. social media sites between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content on their popular false U.S. persona accounts, including Being Patriotic, Defend the 2nd, and Blacktivist.
The Russian trolls sold media space to advertisers. They had nothing to with the election.
Our report then continued:
The indictment is fodder for the public to prove that the Mueller investigation is “doing something”. It distracts from further questioning the origin of the Steele dossier. It is full of unproven assertions and assumptions. It is a sham in that none of the Russian persons or companies indicted will ever come in front of a U.S. court.
The last sentence of that quote has proven to be wrong. One of the legal entities the Mueller investigation indicted, the Russian company Concord Management, hired a U.S. attorney and challenged the justice department. The back and forth during the pre-trial discovery hearings in front of the court, which can be followed in the docket of the case, proofed to be highly entertaining as Concord attorney Eric Dubelier was running circles around the Special Counsel and DOJ lawyers.
On Monday the Justice Department dropped the case:
The US Justice Department on Monday abruptly dropped its criminal case against a company controlled by an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, which allegedly funded the campaign to meddle in the United States’ 2016 elections.
Just weeks before the trial was to begin, the Justice Department announced it was withdrawing the eight-count indictment of Concord Management and Consulting, a company owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin.
The Justice Department claims that Concord Management is demanding evidence for discovery which is secret and that such a demand makes it impossible to move towards a trial:
In a filing in Washington federal district court, the Justice Department said that Concord’s tactics of trying to use US law and court procedures to prise out classified intelligence related to the evidence against it was a threat to national security.
“The government has concluded that further proceedings as to Concord, a Russian company with no presence in the United States and no exposure to meaningful punishment in the event of conviction, promotes neither the interests of justice nor the nation’s security,” it said.
Imagine that – someone who is accused of a crime is using the law and court procedures to see the evidence against him. That can not be allowed. Drop the case.
Those who still defend the Russian interference nonsense will claim that the Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr, has killed the case. But that is wrong:
The trial team included Adam C. Jed, who had worked on Mr. Mueller’s team, and Heather Alpino, a Justice Department National Security Division lawyer who worked closely with the special counsel’s office. Both signed the brief filed on Monday.
So essentially the Mueller team dropped its own case against Concord because there was no chance that they would win it.
But as all claims about Russian influence campaigns are now debunked new ones must be made to keep the meme going.
Reuters: Russia deploying coronavirus disinformation to sow panic in West, EU document says
Russian media have deployed a “significant disinformation campaign” against the West to worsen the impact of the coronavirus, generate panic and sow distrust, according to a European Union document seen by Reuters.
“A significant disinformation campaign by Russian state media and pro-Kremlin outlets regarding COVID-19 is ongoing,” said the nine-page internal document, dated March 16, ..
It quoted fake news created by Russia in Italy, the second-most heavily affected country in the world, that health systems would be unable to cope and doctors would choose who lived or died because of a lack of beds.
One wonders if Reuters confused the shady EU paper with its own March 16 special report about Italy’s use of triage in it’s fight against the epidemic. Was that also ‘fake news’?
Every time a bed comes free, two anaesthesiologists consult with a specialist in resuscitation and an internal medicine physician to decide who will occupy it.
The most devastating medical crisis in Italy since World War Two is forcing doctors, patients and their families to make decisions that Resta, a former military doctor, said he has not experienced even in war.
Italy’s Association of Anaesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care published new guidelines on March 7. Because it expects a “huge imbalance” between the clinical needs of the population and intensive care resources over the next few weeks, it told those on the front lines: Give priority to those with “greater life expectancy.”
If Russian state media indeed reported that Italy’s health system is unable to cope with the epidemic and that doctors must choose who to save than it reported the naked truth. There were more than 4,000 new cases in Italy today and more than 450 dead. That is a new global record.
Western media, primarily the New York Times, were the ones which made false claims about Russian influence campaigns which never existed. Western media, primarily the New York Times, continue to do so.