Paul Manafort Trying to Stop Robert Mueller from Indicting Him So Much

Lucy Bush
April 5, 2018

A federal judge tore into all of the legal arguments that a lawyer for President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort made on Wednesday in his long-shot civil case to convince her that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has run amok and should be reined in.

Though U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson broached the issue of the government's April 2 brief at Wednesday's proceedings, neither Downing nor attorneys for the Justice Department took the opportunity to address the matter directly. In addition to authorizing the Russian Federation collusion investigation of Manafort, Rosenstein also specifically authorized Mueller to investigate any crimes related to payments Manafort received from the Ukrainian government during the tenure of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. He said Mueller, who was assigned to investigate potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, overstepped his bounds by charging him for conduct that occurred years before the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort's suit initially sought to set aside Mueller's appointment as special counsel and nullify his actions related to Manafort.

Manafort, 69, has pleaded not guilty to felony charges related to his work as an worldwide political consultant in Ukraine before joining Trump's campaign in March 2016.

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Downing faced an uphill battle Wednesday morning trying to persuade Jackson that Manafort can challenge the appointment order under the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs how federal administrative agencies propose and institute regulations.

Manafort's latest challenge follows disclosure by the government Tuesday of an August 2, 2017, memo in which Rosenstein confirmed that the allegations against Manafort fall within the scope of Mueller's investigation and the May appointment order. Downing disputed the extent of Manafort's ties to Russia - Manafort never had an office there, he said - and argued that the Russia section should be interpreted as only applying to activities related to the Trump campaign. He has pleaded not guilty. He also asked the judge to bar Mueller's potential future actions in Manafort's criminal cases.

In the heavily redacted memo, Mueller argued that Rosenstein "left no doubt that the conduct that forms the basis for the indictment is within the special counsel's jurisdiction". Manafort has not been charged with any crimes connected to the presidential race.

"Nobody challenges prosecutions under the APA", Jackson said while questioning Downing.

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"Chasing indictment after indictment is not an adequate remedy", Downing said. Justice Department lawyer Daniel Schwei brushed off the memo, saying it didn't have any bearing on the purely legal arguments about why Manafort couldn't bring a civil lawsuit.

He will also argue that Mr Mueller's case against Manafort did not arise from his Russian Federation probe, because the FBI investigated Manafort over the same conduct and closed the case in 2014. But Mueller's team has not previously identified Manafort, who was intimately involved in the campaign's operation for five key months, as a specific target of that investigation.

This scope, according to the now-public memo, includes looking at whether Manafort colluded with Russian government officials in its effort to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election, along with the allegations contained in the existing indictments against him concerning crimes that arose from payments he received for the work he did on behalf of the Ukrainian government.

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Other reports by Info About Network

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