Mueller OK'd to probe Manafort-Russia collusion allegations

Aaron Brown
April 5, 2018

The memo, attached to Monday night's court argument and not previously disclosed even to Manafort, describes how Rosenstein's public order that appointed Mueller in May left out some details so it didn't confirm "specific investigations involving specific individuals".

Gates has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller's team. 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.

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.

The judge, Amy Berman Jackson, is also presiding over the criminal case brought by Mueller against Manafort in federal court in Washington, D.C. Manafort has sought to have the case dismissed, arguing that the charges against him are outside of Mueller's authority.

Justice Department lawyers are expected to bring up this point on Wednesday, saying the proper way to tackle alleged defects in the indictment is by raising them in the criminal case directly. The filing echoed an argument Manafort made in a related civil lawsuit against Mueller and the Justice Department, which also asks the court to throw out his charges.

The judge noted that the Justice Department regulations Manafort cited explicitly said that they did not create rights that could be enforced in a civil lawsuit.

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Although Manafort's lawsuit originally asked the judge to invalidate the entire appointment order, Downing clarified that they were now only asking the judge to set aside the section referring to "any matters" that came out of the investigation. The current charges include money laundering, conspiring to hide his work for Ukraine from U.S. officials, filing false tax returns, and bank fraud. 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.

A court filing on Monday showed Mr Mueller is specifically authorised to investigate whether Manafort colluded with Russian Federation to interfere with the 2016 presidential election and his ties to Ukraine's former pro-Russia government prior to 2016.

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.

Berman Jackson didn't decide on the lawsuit on Wednesday, and will issue an opinion later.

Manafort, in the civil lawsuit, attacked Mueller's prosecution on two fronts. Manafort's claims, he said, "can and will be adjudicated in those other cases".

Several of the prosecutors who've worked on Manafort's criminal case for Mueller's office, including lead prosecutor Andrew Weissmann and appellate specialist Michael Dreeben, watched the hearing.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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