Apro-Russia Twitter account somehow gained access to nonpublic evidence gathered by special counsel Robert Mueller and tweeted out altered versions of those files as part of a "disinformation campaign," Mueller asserted Wednesday.
The allegation was made by Mueller’s team in a new court filing Wednesday in the case against Concord Management and Consulting, a Russian company owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a billionaire friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Concord Management helped finance a known Russian troll farm, Internet Research Agency.
According to Mueller, “certain non-sensitive” evidence given by federal prosecutors to the defense team was "altered" and posted online “as part of a disinformation campaign aimed (apparently) at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. political system.” Mueller didn't describe how the information was altered.
According to the court filing, on Oct. 22, 2018, a newly created Twitter account, @HackingRedstone, said: "We’ve got access to the Special Counsel Mueller’s probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case Concord LLC v. Mueller. You can view all the files Mueller had about the IRA and Russia collusion. Enjoy the reading!”
The tweet linked to a webpage located on an offline file-sharing portal, containing folders with “non-public names and file structure of materials” produced to Concord’s defense team, said Mueller.
Roughly 1,000 of the total 300,000 files posted online matched files produced to Concord Management in discovery, the FBI found.
Mueller's team noted that the FBI found “no evidence" that federal government servers or Mueller's servers "fell victim to any computer intrusion.” Still, it wasn't clear how information on the file structure became public.
“The fact that the file folder names and folder structure on the webpage significantly match the non-public names and file structure of the materials produced in discovery, and the fact that over 1,000 files on the webpage match those produced in discovery, establish that the person(s) who created the webpage had access to at least some of the non-sensitive discovery produced by the government in this case," the filing said.
According to a footnote, the files include images of political memes from Facebook and other social media accounts that were, as alleged in the indictment against Concord, posted and reposted online by Russian-troll agency IRA. They were produced as non-sensitive to the defense, says Mueller, but many of the images are “presumably still available elsewhere on the Internet.”
Mueller said Wednesday that Concord Management’s defense team said on Oct. 23, 2018 that it received inquiries from journalists claiming that they had been offered “hacked discovery materials from our case” and that the defense concluded that it was a “scam” peddling information from a Concord computer hack in 2014.
But Mueller’s team said that was not possible and that “[t]hese facts establish a use of the non-sensitive discovery in this case in a manner inconsistent with the terms of the protective order,” Mueller’s team wrote.
The filing Wednesday by Mueller was in response to Concord Management’s request that the special counsel turn over “sensitive” information, so that it can be reviewed by the company’s officers and employees in Russia as the defense team prepares for trial.
Mueller’s team declined, and said doing so “unreasonably risks the national security interests of the United States.”
The court ordered in June 2018 that material designated as “sensitive” by the government can only be stored according to a specific U.S. law and not be “disclosed, transported or transmitted” outside the U.S. because of “national security, privacy and law enforcement interests.”
Concord Management was one of three Russian companies and 13 Russians indicted in February by Mueller. Concord Management and IRA own Concord Catering, which is run by Prigozhin — who has been dubed "Putin's chef."
All three were charged by Mueller, and none of the company's owners, nor any of the Russians, are in U.S. custody, and it is unlikely they ever will be.