Special Counsel Robert Mueller got some more judicial support, when a federal judge shot down a challenge to his authority in the criminal case against Russian companies accused of orchestrating operations meant to interfere with the 2016 election.
Some Democrats are pitching to donors that they'll prevent Mueller's ouster or other interference by President Donald Trump.
Judge Dabney Friedrich, who serves at the trial-court level in DC federal court, said Concord Management and Consulting could not have its case tossed on constitutional grounds.
Concord also claimed that Justice Department regulations governing the special counsel violate separation of powers principles.
Concord had contended that Mueller's powers were so vast that he didn't qualify under the appointments clause as an "inferior officer" who could be appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Concord has pleaded not guilty to charges it conspired to obstruct the 2016 USA election by funding a coordinated fake social media propaganda campaign run by Internet Research Agency of St. Petersburg that pushed voters toward then-Republican candidate Donald Trump and away from Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. The campaign aimed to push voters toward Trump and away from Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, U.S. authorities said.
"The special counsel is an inferior officer because he is directed and supervised by the acting attorney general", Friedrich wrote in her decision, referring to Rosenstein.
"Congress vested the Acting Attorney General with the power to appoint the Special Counsel", Friedrich added, saying past rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit have made clear that authority "even though no statute explicitly authorizes" it. She also cited judges presiding over other cases related to Mueller's Russian Federation investigation to back up her decision.
Attorneys for Miller, a former aide to Trump confidant Roger Stone, said they planned to appeal the issue Monday.
District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected an attempt to have special counsel Robert Mueller removed from the Russian Federation investigation.