Manafort Sues Justice Department, Mueller Over Russia Investigation

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2018

US President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort on Wednesday filed a legal complaint against the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who is investigating possible collusion between officials close to Trump and Russia, Deutsche Welle reported.

The appointment order gave him the power to examine "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation" into possible collusion.

A spokesman for the special counsel's office declined to comment.

"The lawsuit is frivolous but the defendant is entitled to file whatever he wants", a Justice Department spokesperson told HuffPost in an email. Manafort and his delegate Rick Gates deny the affirmations in the charges.

If Manafort's suit is upheld, it could constrain Mueller's ability to examine, for example, Trump's finances, including business deals with Russian property investors, which have drawn his attention according to recent media reports.

According to former Justice Department official Jimmy Gurule, who served under President George H.W. Bush, the lawsuit has little chance of success but could be a way to force Mueller to reveal the scope of the investigation.

Manafort's lawsuit notes that during his time working for the Ukrainian government he met regularly with the United States ambassador in Kiev, suggesting that the USA government knew what he was doing at the time. He is one of four Trump associates - including former national security adviser Michael Flynn - to be charged so far in Mueller's investigation.

The attorney, a longtime deputy in the Department of Justice's Office of the Solicitor General, has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court and is said to know the federal criminal code inside and out.

The grand jury in October indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Richard Gates on charges of money laundering and conspiracy and failing to register as foreign agents. Those efforts evoke the scandals of President Bill Clinton's administration and his White House's attempt to portray the independent counsel, Kenneth W. Starr, as a partisan who had run amok. Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

The suit claims Rosenstein acted beyond his authority in giving the special counsel such a broad grant of jurisdiction, and any actions taken pursuant to that authority must be set aside. When Manafort's lawyers asked Rosenstein in fall 2017 for clarification on whether Mueller's team had the go-ahead to broaden the investigation into earlier years, they heard nothing back, the complaint says.

Moreover, the integrity of Mueller's investigation is severely compromised since his team is stacked with Democratic donors and former Obama lawyers. Both pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Downing's lawsuit calls this "arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with the law". He further discussed his offshore banking activity in Cyprus.

The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Mueller's Russian Federation investigation has extended its scope. But Manafort is already before a judge, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who could very well decide that the new case is related to the current prosecution and thus handle both matters concurrently.

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