Manafort Appears in Court in Bid to Drop Mueller's Charges Against Him

Memo shows Mueller explicitly tasked with Manafort-Russia collusion claims

Memo shows Mueller explicitly tasked with Manafort-Russia collusion claims

Manafort's suit initially sought to set aside Mueller's appointment as special counsel and nullify his actions related to Manafort.

"Under this regime, a runaway Special Counsel is an impossibility", the prosecutors wrote in their brief to the court, CNN reports.

But Downing has since walked that back, saying that they're only asking for a forward-looking order that blocks future action. A D.C. federal court indicted him past year, but more charges were filed again, and there was a second and third indictment in February.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia made clear her skepticism as she questioned Manafort attorney Kevin M. Downing.

Wednesday's hearing came just days after Mueller's team defended its authority to investigate Manafort by releasing a copy, with redactions, of a classified Justice Department memorandum issued in August 2017.

A federal judge on Wednesday appeared reluctant to rein in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, a probe that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has challenged as overbroad for veering into his overseas lobbying business.

The special counsel's office was able to investigate two avenues of alleged crimes Manafort committed - working with Russians to influence the election in violation of U.S. law, and for crimes that arose from payments Manafort received from former Ukrainian politicians. He also said that he wasn't challenging the entire appointment order, but a bulletpoint allowing Mueller to investigate "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation", which Downing said violated the Administrative Procedure Act.

The former Trump aide filed a civil lawsuit against Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on January 3 in a bid to have the charges against him dropped. And you can bet that Sean Hannity and Alex Jones will now be calling Rosenstein - appointed to his current position by Trump himself, remember - is a commie pinko Reptilian Illuminati member whose real last name is Rothschild and that he's probably a pizza-eating pedophile too.

The criminal indictments against Manafort DC and Virginia state that Manafort's political consulting firm, Davis Manafort Partners Inc., had staff in Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.

The Ukrainian connections and payments form the basis of the federal criminal charges Manafort now faces.

Manafort is charged with conspiracy, money-laundering conspiracy, acting as an unregistered foreign agent, and making false statements all in relation to payments he received for work done for Yanukovych.

"There's no doubt Mr. Manafort continues to be harmed by the ongoing special counsel investigation", he added.

When pressed a couple of times by Jackson to cite a case where the Administrative Procedure Act was used to stop a prosecution, Downing could not come up with an example. They also said that a London-based lawyer who worked with Gates has told prosecutors that Gates knew the man had formerly been an officer with Russian intelligence.

But one section isn't redacted: The investigation Mueller could pursue against Manafort, with the Department of Justice's backing. If anything, Schwei said, the memo showed that the proper place to deal with Manafort's challenges to the special counsel appointment was in the criminal case.

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