Published: Thu, April 05, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Judge Appears Skeptical Of Manafort's Civil Lawsuit Against DOJ, Mueller

Judge Appears Skeptical Of Manafort's Civil Lawsuit Against DOJ, Mueller

Lawyer Kevin Downing said Wednesday in a D.C. federal court that, unless the judge issues an order, Manafort will have to play catch-up whenever Special Counsel Robert Mueller prosecutes him for more crimes, according to BuzzFeed. Manafort claims that Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinRosenstein taps longtime prosecutor as deputy Lawyer gets jail time in first sentence of Mueller probe DOJ authorized Mueller to investigate allegations Manafort colluded with Russia MORE's order a year ago appointing Mueller violated Justice Department policies.

Manafort's legal team has argued that Rosenstein inappropriately gave the special counsel's office an unlimited "blank check" when he authorized Mueller last May to investigate any matter that "arose or may arise" from an examination of the Trump team's ties to Russian Federation. Panera Bread website leaked customer data The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE in his lawsuit seeking to limit the scope of Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE's special counsel investigation, Reuters reports.

"Do you have a single legal case that suggests that being subject to criminal investigation is actionable under the APA?"

Downing said he did not, and also said that he expected Jackson to ignore a provision in the special counsel regulation that bars private parties from going to court to seek to enforce internal management rules. "Ignore it?" the judge asked.

Downing said Manafort's defense had "major issues" with the added authorization, saying that it came after a search warrant had already been executed on Manafort's home. He didn't specify what other types of charges he thought the special counsel might be investigating against Manafort.

Justice Department attorney Daniel Schwei urged Jackson meanwhile to rely on D.C. Circuit precedent in Deaver v. Seymour, which says civil suits can not be used to interfere with criminal proceedings.

"The notion that a civil court should be entering orders and enforcing them over law enforcement is a tremendous incursion on the separation of powers", Schwei said.

But Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday filed a court document that showed that Rosenstein had given him broad authority to investigate Manafort for a variety of potential crimes, including his ties to the former government of Ukraine, including former President Viktor Yanukovych.

Downing attacked a section of the public order Rosenstein gave Mueller when he was appointed last May.

The Justice Department is handling the defense against Manafort's civil suit, but at least a half dozen lawyers from the special counsel's office attended Wednesday's hearing, including Manafort prosecutors Andrew Weissmann, Greg Andres, and Brian Richardson.

He has been charged with a number of felony counts related to financial offenses - including money laundering, fraud and tax evasion, as well as for failing to register as a foreign lobbyist - in connection with his decade of work on behalf of a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party before joining Trump's campaign.

Nonetheless, the charges against Manafort have nothing to do with those alleged ties.

"It would also naturally look into any interactions they may have had before and during the campaign to plumb motives and opportunities to coordinate and to expose possible channels for surreptitious communications", prosecutors wrote. "And prosecutors would naturally follow the money trail from Manafort's Ukrainian consulting activities". "Because investigation of those matters was authorized, so was prosecution".

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