Prosecutors investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election will appear in a Virginia court Friday to argue for the charges against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Manafort is seeking to have bank and tax fraud charges against him dismissed in federal court in Alexandria, arguing the alleged crimes having nothing to do with the election or with President Donald Trump.
He has filed similar motions in D.C. federal court, where he faces charges of money laundering, making false statements, failing to follow lobbying disclosure laws and working as an unregistered foreign agent.
Lawyers working for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III have in response revealed some details of the secretive probe, including portions of a memorandum authorizing Mueller to investigate whether Manafort illegally coordinated with Russia in 2016.
Manafort, 69, has pleaded not guilty to all counts in both indictments, which stem from his work for a pro-Russian political party in the Ukraine. Manafort served as Trump’s campaign chief for five months before resigning amid news reports that he had received secret cash payments for his Ukraine consulting.
The longtime lobbyist has argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein overstepped, giving the special counsel’s office a “blank check” to go after Manafort for conduct the Justice Department was investigating as early as 2014.
The charges are a “potpourri of purported misdeeds that have nothing to do with alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government,” defense attorneys Kevin Downing and Thomas E. Zehnle wrote in a court filing earlier this month.
Prosecutors countered in their own filing that an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government “would naturally cover ties that a former Trump campaign manager had to Russian-associated political operatives, Russian-backed politicians, and Russian oligarchs.”
Earlier this week, Manafort revealed in a court filing that the special prosecutor’s office has said they have no evidence of any recording or intercepted phone call between him and Russian officials.
His lawyers accused government officials of leaking false information to the contrary in order to bias a jury against him.
He is also arguing that one of the charges against him, failing to register as a foreign agent in 2011, is too old to be prosecuted, and that the searches of his home and storage unit were unconstitutional.
Mueller has requested 70 blank subpoenas in preparation for Manafort’s July 10 Virginia trial. He has also added an attorney from the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia to his legal team for the case: Uzo Asonye, who prosecuted Norfolk treasurer Anthony Burfoot.
His attorneys requested both those issues be considered at a hearing on May 25.
In federal court in the District of Columbia, Judge Amy Jackson has already tossed out a lawsuit seeking to bar the special counsel from bringing any future charges against Manafort. Manafort is set to go to trial there on Sept. 17.
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