Manafort sues Mueller, challenging scope of Russia investigation

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from The Hill,

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is suing the Department of Justice and special counsel Robert Mueller in an attempt to kneecap the federal probe into alleged coordination between the campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

In a court filing on Wednesday, lawyers for Manafort argue that the order establishing Mueller’s investigation is overly broad and not permitted under Justice Department regulations.

Mueller should be ordered to stop investigating any of Manafort’s conduct that doesn’t relate to his time as campaign chair, the suit says, and the appointment itself should be declared invalid.

“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,” the filing states.

Manafort, whom Mueller is prosecuting on tax fraud and money laundering charges, is also suing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who issued the order in May appointing Mueller as special counsel.

Even if Manafort is able to argue that he has standing to bring the case, “there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that a judge is going to reject DOJ’s interpretation here of the scope of permissible authority that can be delegated to Mueller,” said Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer.

The filing comes amidst a firestorm of criticism against Mueller from the right, including from a small but vocal group of conservative lawmakers who have called for his resignation. President Trump has derided the probe as a “witch hunt,” insisting that there is “no collusion.”

“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus,” Trump tweeted when the charges were handed down in October.

Moss noted that Manafort chose to file a separate suit — not file a pretrial motion to dismiss the criminal case against him.

“Courts will reject the premise that there is a viable [Administrative Procedure Act] claim when there is an alternative remedy available to the plaintiff. There is one here,” he said.

“That is one more reason I view this as nothing more than a publicity stunt.”

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