Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

House Panel Reaches Agreement With Justice Dept.

House Panel Reaches Agreement With Justice Dept.

Manafort is alleging that special counsel Robert Mueller is operating outside the authority given to him by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. It alleges that Rosenstein, Mueller, et al. have abused the Justice Department regulations governing the appointment of special counsels and their authority to investigate and criminally charge in his case, and seeks to have the actions of Mueller and Rosenstein declared ultra vires, or, without legal authority.

In a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday in a federal court in Washington, DC, Manafort names Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as the defendants.

Manafort wants a judge to declare Rosenstein's original appointment order invalid, to block Mueller's office from investigating issues outside of Russian collusion, and to set aside "all actions taken against Mr. Manafort pursuant to the Appointment Order".

An October 27 indictment accuses Manafort and a longtime associate, Rick Gates, of failing to register as agents in the USA for political consulting they did for Ukraine and pro-Russian politicians there. In this case, Manafort's lawyers said, Mueller was given clear jurisdiction to investigate Russian interference in the election.

"The Special Counsel's investigation and indictment resulted from a violation of numerous DOJ policies and procedures and otherwise far exceeds any lawful authority to investigate links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government", according to the complaint.

According to former Justice Department official Jimmy Gurule, who served under President George H.W. Bush, the lawsuit has little chance of success but could be a way to force Mueller to reveal the scope of the investigation.

Manafort "intentionally met with DOJ prosecutors and Federal Bureau of Investigation specialists to talk about his seaward political counseling exercises" in July 2014, the dissension says.

Manafort, 68, argued that he had already been interviewed by the FBI in 2014 about his Ukraine activities, which date back to the mid-2000s, further placing them outside the contours of Mueller's investigation.

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The complaint claims that the independent counsel law gave those in situations similar to Mueller's (like Ken Starr in the Bill Clinton investigation) "almost unbridled prosecutorial authority", which is why it was not renewed when it expired in 1999.

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

"Those alleged dealings had no connections whatsoever to the 2016 presidential election or even to Donald Trump", the lawsuit says.

Manafort acknowledged in his complaint that his political consulting business in Ukraine has been of interest for years to USA prosecutors.

Both have pleaded not guilty. The total of 12 criminal charges filed against him caused huge political impact as they brought the Russian Federation investigation's focus to the Trump campaign's inner team.

Manafort also claims he told prosecutors about his offshore banking activity in Cyprus.

Mr Rosenstein appointed Mr Mueller previous year and oversees the special counsel's operations. Many House Republicans say that the special counsel's probe is tainted by political bias and that it will never give Trump a fair shake.

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