Donald Trump

Ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort sues Robert Mueller for charging him in Russia probe

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 January, 2018, 5:59am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 February, 2018, 4:09am

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is suing special counsel Robert Mueller and the Justice Department after he was indicted as part of the Russia investigation.

In his suit, Paul Manafort accuses Mueller of exceeding his authority by investigating him for conduct that was not related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort was indicted in October and has pleaded not guilty. The suit was filed on Wednesday in federal court in Washington.

Manafort’s lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment, and a spokesman for Mueller’s office declined to comment.

Mueller and the deputy attorney general who appointed him, Rod Rosenstein, failed to follow the special counsel rules before a grand jury charged Manafort with money laundering and conspiracy, according to the suit.

The special counsel also charged Manafort with conduct he says he voluntarily disclosed to US authorities in 2014, the suit claims.

While Mueller’s appointment order lets him pursue “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,” his prosecutors improperly built a case that had nothing to do with Russian meddling, according to the complaint.

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“The investigation of Mr Manafort is completely unmoored from the special counsel’s original jurisdiction,” Manafort’s lawyers said in a complaint in federal court in Washington.

It has focused instead on unrelated, decade-old business dealings that “had no connection whatsoever to the 2016 presidential election or even to Donald Trump,” they said.

The lawsuit claims Mueller and Rosenstein, who is overseeing the investigation because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, violated the Administrative Procedures Act.

The case comes amid increasing attempts by many Republicans and conservative media to attack Mueller as biased and unfair.

The government’s October 27 indictment accuses Manafort and a long-time associate, Rick Gates, of failing to register as agents in the US for political consulting they performed for Ukraine and for pro-Russian politicians there.

It claims Manafort laundered money from overseas to buy houses, cars, clothes, antiques and landscaping services. He also is accused of hiding offshore accounts. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Manafort, 68, who advised Republican presidential candidates in the 1970s and ’80s, later moved into lobbying and political consulting, working with foreign leaders to ingratiate themselves with Washington.

His roster of clients, some with unsavoury reputations, included deposed Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovich, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In his complaint, Manafort said he met voluntarily with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department on July 30, 2014, and provided detailed explanation of his activities in Ukraine.

They included his frequent contact with US diplomats in Kiev “and his efforts to further US objectives in Ukraine on their behalf.”

The indictment charges Manafort with the “very conduct he voluntarily disclosed” three years before Mueller’s appointment, the complaint says.