Manafort Suspected of Serving as Back Channel to Russia, DOJ Says

  • Prosecutors defend Mueller’ s activities in pursuing Manafort
  • Judge weighing whether or not Mueller exceeded his authority

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’ s i9000 interest in former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort stemmed in part through his suspected role as a “ back channel” between the campaign plus Russians intent on meddling within the election, a Justice Department attorney told a judge.

The disclosure by U. S. prosecutors emerged Thursday during a hearing on whether or not Mueller exceeded his authority within indicting Manafort on charges associated with laundering millions of dollars while acting being an unregistered agent of the Ukrainian govt. Manafort’ s lawyers say individuals alleged crimes have nothing regarding Mueller’ s central mission — to determine whether anyone in the Trump campaign had links to the Russian government.

Defense lawyer Kevin Downing argued anew in order to U. S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington that will even Mueller’ s appointment purchase permitting him to probe “ any matters that arose or even may arise directly from the investigation” wouldn’ t cover the politics consulting work that Manafort do in Ukraine for a decade.

But Justice Section attorney Michael Dreeben said prosecutors were justified in investigating Manafort because he had served as Trump’ s campaign chairman.

“ He previously long-standing ties to Russia-backed political figures, ” Dreeben told Jackson. “ Did they provide back channels in order to Russia? Investigators will naturally look at those activities. ”

Business Connections

Prosecutors hadn’ big t previously used such explicit language to explain their suspicions about Manafort. Inside a previous court filing, Mueller furthermore cited business ties between Manafort and the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska .

Any investigation of hyperlinks between Russia and the Trump marketing campaign “ would naturally cover connections that a former Trump campaign supervisor had to Russian-associated political operatives, Russian-backed politicians, and Russian oligarchs, ” prosecutors said in an April two filing.

“ It might also naturally look into any relationships they may have had before and throughout the campaign to plumb motives plus opportunities to coordinate and to expose feasible channels for surreptitious communications, ” prosecutors wrote. “ And prosecutors would naturally follow the money path from Manafort’ s Ukrainian talking to activities. Because investigation of those issues was authorized, so was criminal prosecution. ”

At Thursday’ s hearing, Downing argued that he was challenging whether or not Mueller “ had the legislation and the authority to conduct the particular investigation. ” He focused on Mueller’ s release of a memo went out with Aug. 2, 2017, and agreed upon by Deputy Attorney General Pole Rosenstein, that
said the reasons for pursuing Manafort. Weighty redactions in the public version ensure it is hard to tell all of the reasons.

Downing said that at the time of Mueller’ s appointment, Rosenstein apparently did not put in writing his reasons for going after Manafort, even though regulations say the particular special counsel “ will be supplied with a specific factual statement of the issue to be investigated. ”

‘ No Memo? ’

Downing said Rosenstein drawn up the August 2017 memo since “ he realizes he obtained something wrong” when Mueller had been appointed nearly three months earlier. This individual said he’ s received absolutely nothing in writing from prosecutors about the factors then for the Manafort probe.

“ In a case associated with such national importance, that’ ersus being looked at all over the world, there’ s i9000 no writing, there’ s simply no memo? ” Downing said. “ I can’ t believe the particular Department of Justice operates like this. ”

Dreeben stated the August 2017 memo is “ confirmation” of what prosecutors suspected about Manafort at the time of Mueller’ s appointment. He also declared that order and underlying regulations need Mueller to report on his function to Rosenstein.

“ It’ s not a blank verify, ” he said. “ It’ s not carte blanche. ”

Jackson heard comparable arguments about Mueller’ s specialist at a hearing on April four, when Downing defended his municipal lawsuit that also said prosecutors had no authority to cost Manafort. The judge expressed strong skepticism then about whether the civil lawsuit was the proper lawful step. She didn’ t state when she would rule in either case.

Guilty Pleas

Mueller has charged 19 individuals, including 13 Russians, since their appointment. Five have pleaded responsible, including Rick Gates, a former Trump deputy campaign chairman and in long run business associate of Manafort. Entrance is cooperating with Mueller’ t investigation.

Aside from the Wa indictment, Manafort is also charged within federal court in Alexandria, Va, with bank and tax scams.

Dreeben, who is assisting Mueller with the investigation, has contended more than 100 cases before the Oughout. S. Supreme Court as mouthpiece solicitor general.

The particular cases are U. S. sixth is v. Manafort, 18-cr-83, U. S. Region Court, Eastern District of Va (Alexandria), and U. S. sixth is v. Manafort, 17-cr-201, U. S. Region Court, District of Columbia (Washington).