Special Counsel Robert Mueller won’t have former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to kick around anymore.
According to a court filing released on Wednesday, Manafort’s attorneys are suing Mueller, the Justice Department, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, saying their actions were “arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with the law.”
This lawsuit could throw a wrench into the federal probe into the Trump transition team’s alleged collusion with Russia.
Manafort Fights Back, Sues Mueller
Mueller and his team of prosecutors filed charges against Manafort and Rick Gates, his business partner, in October on 12 federal charges, including conspiracy against the United States, perjury, failing to register as a foreign agent, and conspiracy to launder money. But earlier this week, lawyers for Manafort filed a lawsuit against Mueller, arguing that the investigation is too broad and is not acceptable under the Justice Department’s regulations.
Manafort avers that his work, conducted on behalf of a Ukrainian government official who was supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin, was completed in 2014, and thus would have had very little impact on the historic 2016 election.
Manafort’s suit further states that Mueller should be mandated to cease investigating any of Manafort’s conduct that does not relate to his tenure as Trump’s campaign chair.
The filing, which was submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, adds:
By ignoring the boundaries of the jurisdiction granted to the Special Counsel in the Appointment Order, Mr. Mueller acted beyond the scope of his authority. Mr. Mueller’s actions must be set aside.
Read the whole filing below.
Mueller and his team have yet to comment on the lawsuit.
Rosenstein, DOJ Also Named in Court Filing
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who submitted the May order to tap Mueller as special counsel, are also being sued by Manafort. Manafort’s lawyers contend that the appointment of Mueller was “arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance” with laws governing the institution of federal regulations.
At the same time, Manafort’s attorneys argue that if Mueller’s appointment were legal, then the “stale allegations” that occurred prior to the 2016 Trump campaign exceeded the jurisdiction established by Rosenstein. The order laid out by Rosenstein in May maintains that Manafort’s legal team “purports to grant Mr. Mueller carte blanche to investigate and pursue criminal charges in connection with anything he stumbles across while investigating, no matter how remote.”
The DOJ rule in question under Manafort’s suit requires the deputy attorney general to offer a “specific factual statement of the matter to be investigated.”
A spokesperson for the DOJ dismissed Manafort’s suit, calling it frivolous, and adding that “the defendant is entitled to file whatever he wants.”
Others contend that it is a sublime public relations move on the part of Manafort. Jonathan Turley, an opinion contributor for The Hill, wrote:
He is right, but this is Washington.
In the end, most people are not overwhelmed by accused criminals objecting that they were caught by the wrong cop. That does not mean that Manafort is without defenses to these allegations, but he should focus on the trial not the investigation. In other words, “Forget it, Paul. It’s Washington.”
Mueller Probe Gets Another Black Eye
The reputation of the Mueller investigation continues to be eroded. In addition to this Manafort lawsuit, the objectivity of the probe has come into question in recent weeks.
Over the last two months, Mueller’s team has been found to be filled with anti-Trump prosecutors. Investigators like Andrew Weissmann, Jeannie Rhee, Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page have all been found to have anti-Trump sentiments, pro-Hillary Clinton positions, or connections to the Barack Obama administration.
Still, President Trump has not expressed any desire to fire Mueller or end the investigation; that would mean political suicide.
And he doesn’t need to; the results of Mueller’s probe — if the investigation ever ends — will be the subject of heavy scrutiny anyway, thanks to the known bias which plagues the investigation.
It’s safe to say that this special counsel’s work is done — whether he wants it to be or not.