Attorney rebuked in Mueller case for 'Animal House' references blames judge and Rachel Maddow for death threats
Court filing: Mueller accused Paul Manafort of lying about sharing polling data with suspected Russian spy
An attorney representing a Russian company that has been indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe on Tuesday unloaded on a federal judge who criticized his references to the raunchy 1978 comedy "Animal House" in legal filings.
Eric Dubelier, a U.S.-based attorney for Concord Management, charged in a court filing that Washington, D.C., District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich had created "at a minimum an appearance of bias or prejudice in favor of the government" by unnecessarily condemning his rhetoric in open court.
Friedrich's husband, Matthew Friedrich, is a former Justice Department prosecutor who worked closely with Andrew Weissmann, who in turn leads the Justice Department's criminal fraud section and now serves as Mueller's top deputy. In 2017, The New York Times described Friedrich as Mueller's "legal pit bull." Dubelier did not mention the connection between Friedrich and Weissman -- who both served on the multiagency Enron Task Force in the wake of the energy company's 2001 collapse amid financial misdeeds -- in his filing.
Dubelier alleged that, as a "direct consequence" of the judge's rebuke, the defense team has received a "flow of hatred in the form of voicemail and electronic mail from self proclaimed patriots containing threats, intimidation, and the desire that both undersigned counsel promptly die."
Justice Department official Andrew Weissman in 2002. (REUTERS, File)
Dubelier, a former assistant U.S. attorney who co-wrote the fiery response filing with Reed Smith LLP colleague Katherine Seikaly, specifically called out MSNBC host Rachel Maddow as an "entertainer" who had drawn attention to the judge's remarks.
"Apparently some of these brave self-proclaimed patriots were whipped into their frenzy by a cable television entertainer unknown to undersigned counsel named Rachel Maddow who devoted a significant portion of her variety program to the words spoken by the Court yesterday.
"So while counsel’s words used in advocacy can hurt, the words of a judge can have devastating consequences.”
In a filing last week, Dubelier referenced “Animal House” and said, “The special counsel’s argument is reminiscent of Otter’s famous line: ‘Flounder, you can’t spend your whole life worrying about your mistakes! You f---ed up . . . you trusted us. Hey, make the best of it.’”
"The words of a Jjdge can have devastating consequences."— Eric Dubelier and Katherine Seikaly
“Animal House” is a cult classic starring John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Donald Sutherland and Kevin Bacon, about two fraternities at a fictional college.
At a Monday status hearing, in response to that filing, Friedrich -- he was appointed to the bench by President Trump in 2017 -- told Dubelier that "you have made many inappropriate remarks." The judge told him to "knock it off.”
In court on Monday, Dubelier accused Friedrich of bias against his client, which is one of the Russian entities accused of participating in Moscow's efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
And in his filing Tuesday, Dubelier went further, arguing that only the judge -- and not the "10 or more lawyers and investigators" working for the government -- had taken any issue with the content and tone of his filings.
The attorney asserted that "when the word 'Judge' appears before a person’s name, this political adornment suggests to the public that there now is some higher level of wisdom than among the mere mortal lawyers in the case, and as such, every single mainstream media organization repeated the Court’s words as gospel."
Dubelier also rebuked the judge for scheduling Monday's hearing with inadequate notice, adding in a terse footnote, "It is curious why the Court was not offended by the Special Counsel’s filing as well."
A federal grand jury last February indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies for allegedly interfering in the election, in a case brought by Mueller that detailed a sophisticated plot to wage “information warfare” against the U.S. Concord Management was among those entities.
When Concord Management pleaded not guilty in May, Dubelier said in court, “The government has indicted the proverbial Ham sandwich.”
Separately on Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected an emergency appeal from an unknown foreign corporation over a pending federal subpoena believed to be linked to Mueller's probe. The justices issued an unsigned order Tuesday, refusing to dismiss a contempt citation issued by a federal judge for failure to comply.
The unnamed company -- listed cryptically in court records as owned by "Country A" -- had challenged a subpoena from a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., including daily fines, after its refusal to turn over requested documents to U.S. investigators.
Fox News' Alex Pappas and Bill Mears contributed to this report.