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Trump-appointed judge defends Mueller, scolds lawyer for Russian firm

"You have undermined your credibility in this courthouse," Judge Dabney Friedrich said. "Knock it off."
Dabney L. Friedrich
Dabney Friedrich in 2007.Stephen J. Boitano / AP file

A federal judge on Monday defended special counsel Robert Mueller while delivering a scathing denunciation of a lawyer for a Russian company charged with meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The confrontation took place inside a Washington courtroom where Judge Dabney Friedrich scolded Eric Dubelier, the attorney for Concord Management, over a recent court filing.

"I thought your brief was inappropriate and unprofessional and ineffective," Friedrich told Dubelier. "You have undermined your credibility in this courthouse."

"Knock it off," added Friedrich.

Eric Dubelier
Defense attorney Eric Dubelier leaves federal court in Washington, on May 9, 2018.Andrew Harnik / AP file

Dubelier's provocative three-page brief quoted the film "Animal House," saying the special counsel's strategy in the case was akin to saying: "You f---ed up. You trusted us."

Concord Management was one of three companies charged last February with carrying out a multimillion-dollar social media disinformation campaign designed to sow discord among U.S. voters and boost Donald Trump's campaign.

Mueller's team said the funding for the effort was provided by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, one of the wealthiest men in Russia and a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin's.

Lawyers for Concord Management have been fighting to get the charges dropped, arguing in part that the company did not knowingly break the law.

In court Monday, Dubelier defended the filing and accused Friedrich, a Trump appointee, of not being impartial.

"There seems to be some bias in this court," said Dubelier, adding that he may withdraw from the case.

Friedrich described the lawyer's attacks against the special counsel as "meritless."

The colorfully worded court filing wasn't the first from Concord's lawyers. In a brief last May, they quoted the movie "Casablanca" and accused Mueller of searching for a "make-believe crime."

"To justify his own existence, the special counsel has to indict a Russian — any Russian," the court papers said.

The filing goes on to quote a famous line from the 1942 film: "Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects."

The judge scheduled the next hearing for March 7.