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Justice Department prosecutors on Monday filed a motion to dismiss charges against the shell companies accused of financing the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm that engaged in a social media disinformation scheme to interfere in the 2016 election.

The big picture: Prosecutors claim that the Russians were essentially able to evade accountability and punishment while taking advantage of the discovery process to potentially harm U.S. national security.

Context: The shell companies, Concord Management and Concord Consulting, were charged by special counsel Robert Mueller in 2018 along with 13 Russian individuals and the troll farm itself — known as the Internet Research Agency. The scheme, outlined in the 2018 indictment and again in the Mueller report, sought to sow political discord ahead of the 2016 election.

Details: The Concord companies sought to fight the indictment in court, unlike the other Russians charged by Mueller. In doing so, prosecutors say they were able to "obtain discovery" from the U.S. government regarding its efforts to "detect and deter foreign election interference" — while also ignoring court-issued subpoenas.

  • "In short, Concord has demonstrated its intent to reap the benefits of the Court’s jurisdiction while positioning itself to evade any real obligations or responsibility," prosecutors argued in the filing.
  • "It is no longer in the best interests of justice or the country’s national security to continue this prosecution."

Read the filing.

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Sen. Kamala Harris at an event in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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Facebook goes after Apple

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Facebook is seeking to force a face-off with Apple over its 30% in-app purchase commission fee, which Facebook suggests hurts small businesses struggling to get by during the pandemic.

The big picture: Facebook has never publicly gone after Apple, a key strategic partner, this aggressively. Both companies face antitrust scrutiny, which in Apple's case has centered on the very fee structure Facebook is now attacking.