cnn sifts through russian troll factory trash matthew chance_00003122.jpg
cnn sifts through russian troll factory trash matthew chance_00003122.jpg
Now playing
03:06
CNN visits Russian 'troll farm' from indictment
Now playing
03:05
Avlon calls for training and reform in police departments
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13: Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) speaks during a news conference on immigration to condemn the Trump Administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, outside the US Capitol on June 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Toya Sarno Jordan/Getty Images)
Toya Sarno Jordan/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13: Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) speaks during a news conference on immigration to condemn the Trump Administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, outside the US Capitol on June 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Toya Sarno Jordan/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:39
Governor settles with former campaign staffer who accused her of sexual mistreatment
pool/cnn
Now playing
01:56
Hear what Dr. Gupta said when Cruz went maskless before
Now playing
02:30
Biden's decision to withdraw from Afghanistan is personal for this lawmaker
President Joe Biden speaks from the Treaty Room in the White House on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, about the withdrawal of the remainder of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.=
Andrew Harnik/AP
President Joe Biden speaks from the Treaty Room in the White House on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, about the withdrawal of the remainder of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.=
Now playing
02:10
Why Biden made his Afghanistan announcement in this particular room
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks from the Treaty Room in the White House about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan on April 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. President Biden announced his plans to pull all remaining U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by September 11, 2021 in a final step towards ending America's longest war.
Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks from the Treaty Room in the White House about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan on April 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. President Biden announced his plans to pull all remaining U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by September 11, 2021 in a final step towards ending America's longest war.
Now playing
01:03
Biden: It's time to end the forever war
Kinzinger
CNN
Kinzinger
Now playing
05:56
What Republican lawmaker fears after US troops leave Afghanistan
CNN
Now playing
02:45
Sen. Bernie Sanders: Trump was right about this
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., questions witnesses during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Washington.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., questions witnesses during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Washington.
Now playing
02:59
Women detail late-night parties with Gaetz
One shot doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are prepared at a clinic targeting immigrant community members on March 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.  The clinic, run by the St. John's Well Child and Family Center, estimates it has vaccinated more than 100,000 people in the Los Angeles area amid reports of two undocumented women who were refused coronavirus vaccinations in Orange County Rite Aid stores. Rite Aid has called the refusals mistakes in a written statement.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images
One shot doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are prepared at a clinic targeting immigrant community members on March 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. The clinic, run by the St. John's Well Child and Family Center, estimates it has vaccinated more than 100,000 people in the Los Angeles area amid reports of two undocumented women who were refused coronavirus vaccinations in Orange County Rite Aid stores. Rite Aid has called the refusals mistakes in a written statement. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:48
These unlikely events are still more likely than a blood clot after the J&J vaccine
U.S. Marines conduct an operation to clear a village of Taliban fighters in July 2009 in Mian Poshteh, Afghanistan.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
U.S. Marines conduct an operation to clear a village of Taliban fighters in July 2009 in Mian Poshteh, Afghanistan.
Now playing
03:19
Biden to announce Afghanistan withdrawal by September 11
roger wicker
CNN
roger wicker
Now playing
04:52
Sen. Wicker on Biden's infrastructure plan: Not ruling out tax hike
Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) arrives for a House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing with members of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee on Capitol Hill on December 9, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) arrives for a House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing with members of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee on Capitol Hill on December 9, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
03:02
Sources say Gaetz was denied meeting with Trump
CNN
Now playing
07:27
CNN anchor pushes back on Texas state lawmaker's defense of voting bill
CNN
Now playing
01:12
Tapper asks Buttigieg for infrastructure plan timeline
(CNN) —  

A federal judge on Thursday upheld a federal indictment against the Russian troll farm accused of meddling in the 2016 election, handing a victory to special counsel Robert Mueller.

In a 32-page opinion, Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected efforts by Concord Management and Consulting to dismiss the indictment, which accused the Russian company of conspiring to defraud the US government. Mueller’s team says the company was involved in a well-funded “troll farm” that pumped out political propaganda to millions of Americans throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.

It was the second time that Friedrich, a Trump appointee, sided with Mueller and let the case proceed. Earlier this year, she rebuffed Concord’s arguments that there were constitutional problems with Mueller’s appointment and authority. Thursday’s ruling centered more on the merits of the indictment.

Concord was charged with conspiring to defraud the US government by hiding its election-related activities and failing to register as a foreign agent trying to influence the US political process. The company wasn’t charged with violating these laws, a point Concord made in its arguments.

But in upholding the indictment, Friedrich wrote that “the key question” was not whether Concord violated the underlying US laws that regulate foreign agents and political spending. Instead, she said the threshold to indict Concord on the conspiracy charge was whether the company’s actions were “deceptive and intended to frustrate the lawful government functions” of the relevant agencies.

Friedrich concluded that Mueller’s team showed “plenty” of evidence that Concord tried to deceive US government agencies, bolstering the decision to indict the Russian firm. She cited parts of the indictment that accused Concord employees of lying to the State Department on visa applications and using virtual private networks to hide the fact that their social media posts originated from Russia.

She also knocked down Concord’s argument that the indictment should be dropped because Mueller did not prove that the Russians were aware of the relevant US laws and “knowingly” violated those laws.

But again, Friedrich said Concord was overreaching. While prosecutors usually need to show that defendants “knowingly” violated election and lobbying laws, Concord was not charged with those crimes. They were charged with conspiracy, and that statute does not carry the same requirements.

“Concord goes too far … a general knowledge that US agencies are tasked with collecting the kinds of information the defendants agreed to withhold and conceal would suffice,” Friedrich wrote.

Making his first direct move against Russians, Mueller indicted Concord in February, along with two other companies, a dozen of their so-called “trolls,” and their oligarch benefactor, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

But none of the 13 indicted Russians have appeared in US courts, and they are expected to remain in their native Russia, where they are safe from extradition. But Concord hired respected American attorneys who have waged an aggressive-but-unsuccessful fight against Mueller in US courts.

CNN previously reported that some Justice Department lawyers have groused that the Mueller team could have avoided this fight with Concord, and the potential for negative court decisions, but ignoring the Russian companies and focusing their indictments on the Russian citizens who ran the troll farm.

Despite these concerns, Mueller has fared well in the courts. Friedrich is one of four federal judges that have upheld Mueller’s appointment and constitutionality amid a barrage of legal challenges. Some of those challenges are still ongoing and have moved beyond district courts to the appellate level.