Special Counsel Robert Mueller won praise from two sources close to his investigation today, leaving President Trump on an uncomfortable hot seat going into a contentious 2019.
During proceedings in the case between Mueller and Concord Management and Consulting, one of three companies charged last year in running a social media disinformation campaign designed to influence the 2016 election, a federal judge lambasted defense counsel Eric Dubelier for his court filings last week.
Dubelier, who the Washington Times suggested would be Mueller’s most imposing courtroom adversary in 2019, criticized Mueller’s investigative and prosecutorial strategy in his filings, quoting the film Animal House in saying that Mueller’s strategy was similar saying “You (expletive) up. You trusted us.”
Judge Dabney Friedrich openly confronted Dubelier in court today, according to NBC, telling Dubelier “I thought your brief was inappropriate and unprofessional and ineffective. You have undermined your credibility in this courthouse.” The Judge then labeled Dubelier’s accusations against Mueller as “meritless” and ordered Dubelier to “knock it off.”
“There seems to be some bias in this court,” replied Dubelier, complaining that he may withdraw from the case. Friedrich was appointed by President Trump.
Concord Management has been fighting against Mueller’s subpoena since last May.
While Friedrich’s defense of Mueller was an endorsement of the Special Counsel as a prosecutor, he also received high marks as an investigator from another source. Erik Prince, the former Navy SEAL and founder of Blackwater, spoke of his experiences being questioned by Mueller’s team about Prince’s meeting with Vladimir Putin ally Kirill Dimitriev in the Seychelles islands shortly before the 2016 election on CNBC‘s “Squawk Box” this morning.
The judge told attorney Eric Dubelier that his strategy was "ineffective" and that his approach to filings — including pop culture quotes (see: https://t.co/1D4TMV2sQF) and accusing Mueller's office basically of lawlessness — was "undermining your credibility in this courthouse" pic.twitter.com/XeNM8jWbFk
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) January 7, 2019
Prince, the brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, told the hosts that he would have preferred getting a “proctology exam” to sitting for interviews with Mueller’s team.
Prince, a former Trump advisor, came under scrutiny when it was revealed by U.S. Intelligence that a meeting between Dimitriev and Prince occurred after being arranged by Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Zayed. United States, European, and Middle Eastern officials said that the meeting was “part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Trump,” according to the Washington Post.
Prince contends that the meeting was with Zayed about terrorism and the price of bauxite and that he later met Dimitriev at the hotel bar at the urging of the crown prince’s delegation. Prince claims that he and Dimitriev discussed terrorism and trade.
“I didn’t fly there to meet any Russian guy,” Prince told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during questioning in 2017.
“I went to see an old friend, leadership in the UAE after the election, and there was a Russian there,” Prince told the Squawk Box hosts when they asked why Mueller questioned him. “So I had no contact with him before, no contact after.” Prince said that Mueller’s team wanted to know “(W)hat I was doing there. And I explained and that was it.”
“I answered their questions, and they haven’t talked to me since,” said Prince.