Special Counsel Robert Mueller told a federal judge that a civil lawsuit by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort seeking to block future prosecutions against him should be dismissed because Manafort’s legal reasoning and proposed outcome keeps changing.
Manafort’s lawsuit initially attacked Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, for exceeding his authority by charging him with crimes that had nothing to do with the Trump campaign. Manafort’s attorney scaled back that request last week at a hearing in Washington, saying he just wanted to block future investigations or prosecutions of him by Mueller.
That doesn’t work legally, Mueller’s office said in a filing on Wednesday. “Given Manafort’s shifting characterizations of what exactly he is seeking through this lawsuit, the government respectfully” requests that the judge dismiss the case, prosecutors wrote.
Manafort is facing two trials this year. The first will be in Alexandria, Virginia, where he’s accused of tax and bank fraud. Earlier Wednesday, Mueller’s office asked the judge there to issue 35 blank subpoenas for witnesses to appear at that trial, which is scheduled to start July 10. Mueller’s team also defended that prosecution in a filing late Tuesday, saying, “The special counsel has acted within his authority in investigating and prosecuting Manafort for crimes arising from his Ukrainian payments.”
In the Washington case, Manafort is accused of laundering money he made while acting as an unregistered lobbyist for the former president of Ukraine and making false statements to federal agents. It’s set to open Sept. 17.
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