Paul Manafort Files Lawsuit Against Robert Mueller and DOJ

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Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort sued special prosecutor Robert Mueller and the Justice Department Wednesday for allegedly overstepping their mandates, in a potentially significant challenge to the Russian Federation probe that threatens the United States president.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is suing the U.S. Department of Justice, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, claiming that the DOJ acted outside the law by giving Mueller vast authority in his investigation.

President Donald Trump's legal team held talks with the members of special counsel Robert Mueller's team a few days before Christmas, a source briefed on the matter told CNN.

Manafort's lawsuit alleges that the deputy attorney general's order in effect wrongly gives Mueller "carte blanche" to look into and pursue criminal charges against "anything he stumbles across while investigating, no matter how remote from the specific matter" of Russian Federation. His lawsuit, which also names Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as a defendant, argues that the charges are not connected to the investigation into Russia's tampering with the 2016 presidential election. None of the charges are related to his work on Trump's campaign or alleged collusion with Russian Federation, which Mueller was appointed to investigate.

Manafort and Gates face a total of 12 criminal charges related to money laundering and failure to file federal disclosures. But he was indicted in connection with that same work three years later as part of Mueller's investigation even though the alleged crimes are not tied to Russian meddling in the USA election.

More specifically, Mueller is charged with investigating "links and/or coordination between Russian government and individuals associated the the Trump campaign, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation". They say the Justice Department reviewed Mr. Manafort's finances for years and never brought charges until Mr. Mueller put together his team of prosecutors.

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Manafort's case appears to be "an uphill battle that's unlikely to succeed", said Solomon Wisenberg, a Washington defence lawyer who worked under Whitewater probe Independent Counsel Ken Starr during the Clinton administration.

According to the complaint, Mueller was given additional authority to pursue "any matters that arose or may arise from that investigation". The special counsel's office declined to comment.

Manafort was indicted in October and has pleaded not guilty. There is no known connection between Manafort's foreign lobbying activities and the Trump campaign.

If Mueller had in fact gone too far in charging Manafort, it would be up to the attorney general to call him on the conduct - and ultimately up to the president to withdraw the charges. "The investigation focused on the activities of a former Ukraine president and was closed soon after Mr Manafort's interview".

Manafort "voluntarily met with DOJ prosecutors and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents to discuss his offshore political consulting activities" in July 2014, the complaint says.

Manafort's lawyer had asked Rosenstein in September to say whether he had granted Mueller the authority to investigate Manafort for potential tax and other white-collar crimes dating back a decade. "Nor were they uncovered in the course of the Special Counsel's probe into President Trump's campaign".

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