Will the Press Recognize They Also Deserve a Scolding for Parroting Eric Dubelier’s Nude Selfie Stunt?

According to Google, there are almost 4 million results for a search on “nude selfie Mueller.” All the top results report on a recent filing from Concord Management objecting to Robert Mueller’s request to submit an ex parte filing explaining why Concord should not be able to share the unclassified but sensitive information obtained in discovery with their boss, Yevgeniy Prigozhin. None of the reports I read considered why and how Mueller’s team would have obtained a nude selfie along with the rest of the vast amounts of social media data it obtained as part of its effort to investigate how trolls paid by Prigozhin operated (one explanation might be that Prigozhin employees sent a nude selfie of themselves via a US-based provider which then got turned over as part of a content request, which contributed to the process of identifying the employees).

In other words, rather than reporting on the mention of the nude selfie as part of covering a legal case, the press instead treated it largely as Concord lawyer Eric Dubelier presumably intended, as a means of making and calling attention to a legally frivolous but politically damning insinuation about Mueller’s investigation. Tellingly, the coverage of the nude selfie claim came only after Dubelier included it in the short response filing rather than the legally more interesting initial request to amend the protective order, which complained that Mueller had turned over “irrelevant data ranging from promotional emails for airlines to personal correspondence, even including personal naked selfie photographs” (which also provides context that might explain why the selfie(s) was discoverable).

All that is useful background, in my opinion, to reports from the hearing that Judge Dabney Friedrich scheduled for today on Friday, before she permitted Mueller to submit a related filing under seal today.

By all appearances, Friedrich brought Concord’s lawyers in (when effectively all she did was schedule a follow-up hearing for March and — apparently — review Mueller’s claims about grand jury proceedings separately) to yell at them for their trollish filings.

A judge publicly slammed the defense lawyers for a Russian company criminally charged by special counsel Robert Mueller, accusing the firm’s attorneys of submitting unprofessional and inappropriate court filings attacking Mueller’s office and of unwisely peppering legal briefs with jarring quotes taken from movies like Animal House.

“I’ll say it plain and simple: knock it off,” U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich told lawyers for the Russian company, Concord Management and Consulting, at a brief court hearing in Washington Monday morning.


A stern-faced Friedrich, the newest of President Donald Trump’s three appointees to the district court in Washington, made clear Monday that she was not amused by what she called the “clever quotes.” She also chastised Dubelier for ad hominem attacks on Mueller’s attorneys and other prosecutors in the case.

“I found your recent filings, in particular your reply brief filed Friday, unprofessional, inappropriate and ineffective,” the judge said. She suggested the submissions were an effort to bully her into granting pending defense motions to give the owners and officers of Concord greater access to materials Mueller’s office has turned over to permit the defense to prepare for trial.

Here’s the filing from Friday that appears to have caused her to finally lose patience with Dubelier’s stunts.

The issues presented by the Concord case — particularly the question about whether Prigozhin, who made himself a Director after Concord got indicted (a parallel move to one he appears to have made to set up a Facebook lawsuit), can obtain discovery without showing up in the US to get it — are legally interesting and potentially important as precedents.

But even the legal press that knows better — and especially the political journalists covering the Mueller investigation as part of their White House coverage — are playing willing tools for Dubelier’s trolling.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

35 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    Friedrich missed the obvious riposte to Concord’s lawyers . . .

    The argument of the counsel for the defense is reminiscent of Bluto’s famous line “Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” It’s a wonderful line for stirring up passions, but completely lacking in factual accuracy. You might want to block imdb.com on your firm’s legal research computers before you make your next filing in my courtroom.

    Shorter Friedrich: I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.

  2. Obvsly IANAL says:

    What caused Dubelier to file such provocative documents? Do you have a sense that he would like out from under the Concord case? I did a little (very little) research on Dubelier and discovered this interesting article, the merits of which I am 100% unqualified to judge. Alert: Innuendo is rife in the piece.


  3. scribe says:

    Keyword search of this report pulls out this sentence:

    “I found your recent filings, in particular your reply brief filed Friday, unprofessional, inappropriate and ineffective,” the judge said. 

    Which sentence contains the single most powerful word:  “ineffective”.

    When litigating “Unprofessional” and “inappropriate” can be survived.  “Ineffective”, not.

    • emptywheel says:

      Right? She may well have been doing them a favor. The discovery issue is a very interesting one and if they prevail, Mueller might finally dismiss Concord as a defendant. But not if they continue trolling.

  4. pseudonymous in nc says:

    At some point there must be diminishing returns for Reed Smith, especially for co-counsel Kate Seikaly. If the grand jury is examining ‘matter[s] occurring before the grand jury’ that overlap into the case against Concord and/or Prigozhin — perhaps even Mystery Appellant, as that’s still on John Roberts’ desk — then there’s also the possibility of it revealing embarrassing things about the lawyers who appeared from nowhere.

  5. earlofhfuntingdon says:

    Judge Friedrich needed to put defense counsel explicitly on notice that their conduct was unacceptable without being seen to respond emotionally to their intentional goading.  Being too emotional would open the door to claims of bias and that Friedrich should be removed because of that bias.

    Having to change judges or even argue the point would confuse and delay proceedings.  One might guess that was Dubelier’s objective.  I think Judge Friedrich did a fine job.

  6. Kansas Watcher says:

    Judge (stop sling crap against the wall and see what sticks)

    i suspect the defense attorney are getting a much higher rate of pay than usual.

    i suspect we will be learning some real details soon with the change of leadership in The House.

    Cant wait to see Devin Nunes in the headlines.

    • MattyG says:

      OT but the mention of Devin Nunes makes me ask – is there any reporting about GOP/RNC guys who’s eagerness to support Trump and/or supress Mueller is in any way linked to Russian kompromat? Seems like the Kremlim would have nice little files going on a lot of the players who have seemed awfully willing to come the the aid of DT in matters relating to Trump/Russia.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Dana Rohrabacher’s HPSCI interview transcript from December 2017 will be going to Mueller, and there’s a fair chance that it might become public.

  7. BobCon says:

    @MattyG — I’m going to guess that what’s been seen so far with the Russia-NRA-GOP connection is going to be revealed to have been played out with other GOP interest groups. We’ll see how much of it can be definitively tied to some kind of quid pro quo that the Russians could use as leverage.

    I’m going to guess in a lot of cases the linkage will be hard to nail down, but that there was also some number of cases where it is possible to make a connection due to sloppiness. We’ll see a lot of damage control by the GOP to claim that nothing was happening — with the possible result that the Russians get a rebound benefit of further leverage over politicians and organizations that don’t want the Russian evidence to emerge.

    • MattyG says:

      yes – and all the wiggling will likely make undiscovered exposure increasingly uncomfortable for them as you say – yet too much resistance will beg the question. In the end it’ll come down to the evidence of course. Most starkly for DT and other headliners, but a bunch of these enablers really look like they will find themselves in a very ackward position.

      At times I wonder if Mueller is proceding so methodically because he needs to be absolutely ironclad if a truly historical accusation is to be levelled against the POTUS, or if the evidentiary tributaries are just so abundant and well populatated that he can’t move any faster without leaving too much enexpained and unprosecuted…

  8. pseudonymous in nc says:

    @EW: Kate Seikaly is the discovery specialist of the partnership, and the briefs in older cases — the ones mentioned on her Reed Smith bio — where her name comes first are a little arch in parts but not Dubelier-level dickish. So this is a team assembled to a) be dickish; b) push the envelope on discovery.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Re pseudonymous in nc @ 12.17 pm, discovery is where most civil cases are won or lost, especially involving big corporations. They really, really hate to have their files entered into the public domain as court documents. Trials are rare. Reed Smith seems to be applying what they know.

  10. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Well, either something weird happened with PACER or Manafort’s lawyers missed their midnight deadline to respond.

  11. Trip says:

    Trump administration downgrades EU mission to US
    The Trump administration has downgraded the diplomatic status of the European Union’s delegation to the United States, an EU official has confirmed to DW. The demotion happened at the end of last year without notice.

    The person added that while it’s not uncommon for a new administration to rethink protocol classifications, it’s unusual that such a downgrade happens after a new administration has been in office for nearly two years. It’s also rare that a diplomatic mission is not informed by the host country about such a decision ahead of time, and in writing.
    “I have big difficulties to see that this has anything to do with a new administration or a new protocol, because time-wise it’s really very far removed,” the official said.

    The diplomatic downgrade of the EU’s mission in Washington appears to be in line with what is widely being perceived as an anti-EU stance by the Trump administration.

    Who’s at the top of the list now? Putin, MbS?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      This is Trump again doing Putin’s business.

      There is no rational reason to downgrade the EU’s status.  It is an established political and economic union that represents a trade bloc the size of the US.  It is a major world player.  Downgrading its status is nothing more than presidential pique that its representatives were less impressed with the size of his fingers than he wants them to be.

      Trump recognizes no American national interest distinct from whatever protects or increases his personal income.  Enhancing Mr. Putin’s interests seems to qualify as protecting or adding to his income.  Trump does his bidding rather than promote American interests.  That might be top of the laundry list of charges when it comes time for Trump’s impeachment.

  12. Trip says:

    The crisis we are facing suddenly, which requires declaring a national emergency, is that the Democrats took over the House.

    Trump had over two years to get the wall money when the GOP controlled all branches of government. Why didn’t they do it?

    And yet….Not one network or channel has turned down the Liar in chief for a propaganda speech. Fucking cowards and enablers. It’s not a tough decision. But as usual, the easiest road was taken. Thanks for your assist in the road to fascism.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The MSM will agonize endlessly about whether to give Democrats equal air time to refute what will be a string of lies by Mr. Trump.  And someone please call them lies.

      The president has access to whatever information in the world he needs.  He has staff to know what he needs, how to get it, and how to spin it in a manner the president might accept.  He controls what he wants to say and the timing of when he says it.  If the president refuses to accept the facts, he is either lying or willfully ignorant: both qualify as lies.  The MSM should say so.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Another crisis that needs tending is that DHS has been immune from oversight for a decade and a half. It has not been subject to meaningful oversight since BushCheney invented it by amalgamating several agencies and, in the process, vehemently trying to gut federal employee unions.

    Congress could address that failing by having the House conduct oversight hearings into DHS’s budget, its staffing process, particular its hiring requirements for border guards, TSA, the lot.

    DHS is yuge. It is badly in need of reform and new leadership. Kirstjen Nielsen is as much of a shambles as Trump and as much of a prostrate sycophant as Mike Pence.

  14. P J Evans says:

    @Trip @earl
    WH claims it’s an eight-minute speech – so eight minutes of Himself’s stream-of-unconsciousness blathering that they’re telling us is so important that it must get national media coverage.
    I’ll be doing something else.

    • Trip says:

      Someone on MSNBC last night mentioned that WH sources told her Trump will invoke Netanyahu’s wall as justification for one at our border. I will remind people here that that barrier also serves as a prison wall. Further, I will remind people that an Israeli firm was jockeying for funds to build the wall, and their stocks skyrocketed right after Trump’s inauguration.

      My guess is that this is another cynical approach to getting his way via Israel lackeys, who are all in for killing First Amendment Rights if they say anything bad about Israel:


      Schumer was initially a proponent of the anti-BDS bill, but will now block it (at this time).

      When will anyone in the MSM speak up honestly about the fuckery of Netanyahu and our politicians putting Israel loyalties above those of THIS country? Trump knows this and supposedly will be using it toward his advantage in selling this shitty wall production.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Marcy says this on twtr about an Atlantic article saying that the odds are good that Trump will displace Nixon at the top of the presidential criminals beauty pageant:

    This piece, while good, does not even get to the worst of the crimes that might be shown against Trump.

    I think that’s a valid description of the entire piece by Princeton history professors Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer.  It attempts a precis of past presidents’ crimes – Nixon, Clinton, Trump – but achieves only a superficial framing which badly understates them.

    They frame Nixon’s Watergate crisis, which led to his forced resignation, this way: “The underlying crime in Watergate was a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, part of a plot to steal documents.”

    That’s technically correct, but it’s like a therapist who sees only the presenting issue, the problem that brought you to therapy.  Normally, underlying issues are more important and problematic.  That was true of Watergate.

    Nixon did not resign over a break-in at the DNC.  He resigned over all the other alleged crimes that came to prosecutors’ and Congress’s notice owing to the investigation of the break-in.  That, too, is happening with Trump.  Nixon resigned because of those larger crimes.  He lied about them, which gave rise to the myth that, “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up” that’s worse.

    Scooter Libby lied, for example, and committed obstruction to protect Dick Cheney from liability for his alleged crimes.  Libby was convicted, but avoided a prison sentence thanks to Bush commuting his sentence, but not pardoning him – preserving his legal jeopardy and continued silence.  Presumably, the crimes Libby hid were worse than the ones he committed to hide them.

    That was true of Nixon, but Kruse and Zelizer don’t tell us that.  They do come up with this exonerating way to describe the crimes allegedly committed during Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal:

    The legal violations were considerable but, as partisans insisted and much of the public believed, the scandal stemmed from a sincere policy position held by the administration rather than the self-interest of individuals.

    That repeats the partisan defenders’ claim that the Democrats were trying to “criminalize” policy differences over Reagan’s attempt “to secure military assistance to Nicaraguan rebels.”  That is as accurate and misleading as describing Nixon’s crime as breaking into the DNC to steal documents.

    The list of alleged crimes committed by Reagan, Bush, North, Weinberger and others is long.  The administration’s CIA, for example and in effect, obstructed justice in stonewalling Iran-Contra Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh for the duration of his term.  And to put Kruse and Zelizer’s neutered description into context, the “assistance” the Reagan administration provided involved illegal arms sales, illegal diversions of money, and illegal support for CIA-backed rebels and their brutal and deadly, years-long effort to destabilize and overthrow the elected government of Nicaragua.

    Nor did the debate over the Reagan administration’s crimes just “fizzle out.”  It was actively suppressed and then made legally moot by Poppa Bush, who pardoned key players immediately after taking office, which had the effect of pardoning himself.  The cover-up was reprehensible, but it was not worse than the underlying crimes.

    The same is likely to be true for Donald Trump.  If we are to learn from history, we need to learn history, not a simplified summary of it.

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