Paul Manafort, who briefly served as Donald Trump’s campaign manager, has filed suit against the White House special counsel, which is investigating alleged election interference and collusion by the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election.
Mr. Manafort’s lawsuit contends Mr. Mueller had not uncovered any wrongdoing on his part and the following indictment is unrelated to the ongoing Russia probe.
According to court records, Manafort’s attorneys are alleging special counsel Robert Mueller exceeded his authority and Manafort’s indictment on charges of tax evasion and money laundering charges violated the scope of the Justice Department-authorized probe.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, was also named as a defendant. A DOJ statement described Manafort’s lawsuit as “frivolous.”
“(The indictment against Manafort) is completely unmoored from the special counsel’s original jurisdiction,” read the lawsuit filed on Wednesday.
Mr. Manafort’s action demands a federal judge dismiss the order issued by Rosenstein naming Mueller to lead the Russia inquiry and to throw out indictments Mueller brought against Manafort in late 2017. Additionally, the suit asks the court to bar Mueller from undertaking further investigations.
Along with longtime business associate, Rick Gates, Manafort was indicted by the Justice Department in October 2017 on 12 counts of conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy against the U.S., failing to register as a foreign agent, and filing false or misleading Foreign Agents Registration Act statements.
Both Manafort and Gates entered pleas of not guilty.
A longtime Washington, D.C., lobbyist, Manafort’s portfolio of clients include former Angola UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, former Filipino strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and exiled Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
Shortly after Yanukovych was deposed in Ukraine in 2014, the FBI opened an investigation and interviewed Manafort about his foreign political activities during which time he was reportedly placed under government surveillance until sometime in 2017. Shortly before President Trump’s inauguration, the investigation into Manafort’s business practices swelled to include probes from the CIA, NSA and Treasury Department.
Weeks after Mueller’s May appointment as special counsel, the FBI conducted a pre-dawn, “no-knock” raid on Manafort’s Virginia home in which documents Mueller’s office said were related to the Russia probe were seized.
In late July 2017, Manafort testified in a closed-door session with the Senate Intelligence Committee and produced subpoenaed documents.
Manafort surrendered to federal authorities, was charged, and was released on house arrest. Upon reaching a bail agreement in November, Manafort was released from house arrest.
[Wall Street Journal] [Politico] [CNN] [Photo courtesy ABC News]