Manafort Appears in Court in Bid to Drop Mueller's Charges Against Him


Manafort Appears in Court in Bid to Drop Mueller's Charges Against Him

Also in Monday night's filing, Mueller's prosecutors explain how they might try to connect Manafort's pre-campaign lobbying work to possible crimes during the 2016 campaign.

Three months after being indicted on criminal charges related to his lobbying for Ukraine, Manafort in January sued the government alleging that Mueller was unlawfully appointed and that his investigation had strayed far from its original mandate of investigating any ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. In the filing, the special counsel's office argues that a federal judge should not throw out Manafort's case. Manafort's motions to dismiss the charges Mueller's team has brought in Washington and Virginia federal district courts.

In a heavily redacted memo also filed Monday, the special counsel's office revealed that Rosenstein explicitly gave Mueller the authority to investigate Manafort's Ukraine work, along with whether he "committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials" during the 2016 presidential race.

They said the indictments lodged against Mr. Manafort were faulty because they dealt with charges unrelated to the Kremlin's meddling.

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Downing said he didn't contest that Mueller could investigate possible links between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign in the 2016 campaign, but he said Mueller shouldn't be able to also examine "any matters that arose or may arise directly" from his probe. Manafort plans to file an updated version of the lawsuit that reflects the narrowed focus and also drops a second count that accused Mueller of exceeding the scope of his authority in the appointment order, according to a person familiar with Manafort's legal team.

But at Wednesday's hearing, Manafort attorney Kevin Downing scaled back his request, saying he wanted the judge to strike down a key provision in the order appointing Mueller in May 2017.

The Ukrainian connections and payments form the basis of the federal criminal charges Manafort now faces.

Deflecting, Downing said he was unaware the court would go there now.

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The description largely outlines the charges against Manafort, which mostly relate to allegations that he conspired to launder tens of millions of dollars he received from his Ukrainian political consulting including his work on Yanukovych's behalf.

The argument came at a hearing this morning in the civil analogue to Manafort's criminal prosecution. 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.

Appearing before Jackson on Wednesday, Downing argued that an injunction is necessary to guard against the possibility of future prosecutions in additional jurisdictions. Mueller's team alleges that Manafort and his business associate, Richard Gates, attempted to hide the money they made from that lobbying work from USA officials.

"It would also naturally look into any interactions they may have had before and during the campaign to plumb motives and opportunities to coordinate and to expose possible channels for surreptitious communications", prosecutors wrote.

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Manafort is scheduled to face a jury in Virginia in July, then awaits trial in DC in September.

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