Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort challenges special counsel's authority

Former lawyer to be sentenced for lying in the Russia investigation

Without an order from the court stopping Mueller's office from pursuing other charges in the future - based on an appointment order that Downing contends was unlawful - Manafort would have to "sit and wait" and keep chasing the special counsel's office wherever they chose to prosecute him next in order to challenge Mueller's appointment, Downing said.

A federal judge expressed doubts Wednesday about a lawsuit brought by Paul Manafort challenging special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's criminal probe of Russian interference in 2016 USA elections.

Manafort, who was indicted past year on a series of felony charges related to his work in Ukraine before joining Trump's campaign, has not been charged with any crimes connected to the presidential race.

Manafort's legal team has argued that Rosenstein inappropriately gave the special counsel's office an unlimited "blank check" when he authorized Mueller last May to investigate any matter that "arose or may arise" from an examination of the Trump team's ties to Russian Federation.

Manafort, who performed lobbying work for a pro-Russian former Ukrainian president before serving as Trump's campaign chairman in the 2016 US election, is facing two indictments brought by Mueller in federal courts in Washington and Alexandria, Virginia.

Manafort, who performed lobbying work for a pro-Russian former Ukrainian president before serving as Mr Trump's campaign chairman in the 2016 USA election, is facing an array of charges in two indictments brought by Mr Mueller in federal courts in Washington and Alexandria, Virginia. In a report unclassified in January 2017, USA intelligence agencies said the Kremlin wanted to help Trump. Manafort's lawyers have alleged in court documents that Mueller's probe has now become an "unbounded exercise of prosecutorial authority [that] is wholly incompatible with our constitutional tradition". He also asked the judge to bar Mueller's potential future actions in Manafort's criminal cases.

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But U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing both the civil case and Manafort's indictment in Washington, said Manafort couldn't cite any legal authority allowing him to use the Administrative Procedure Act to attack Mueller's actions as prosecutor. He has no idea what the possible charges are or what evidence Mueller might have and that lack of control is going to drive him nuts.

They also noted that Rosenstein has said publicly that he is supervising the investigation closely and that he does not believe Mueller has exceeded his authority. A version of the memo filed in court showed that Rosenstein signed off on an investigation into whether Manafort "committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials", as well as into Manafort's work as an worldwide political consultant in Ukraine before joining Trump's campaign in 2016.

Manafort is charged with conspiracy, money-laundering conspiracy, acting as an unregistered foreign agent, and making false statements all in relation to payments he received for work done for Yanukovych. It alleges portions of Rosenstein's order laying out Mueller's investigative mandate violate Justice Department rules.

Downing said he did not, and also said that he expected Jackson to ignore a provision in the special counsel regulation that bars private parties from going to court to seek to enforce internal management rules. Manafort's claims, he said, "can and will be adjudicated in those other cases".

"It would also naturally look into any interactions they may have had before and during the campaign to plumb motives and opportunities to coordinate and to expose possible channels for surreptitious communications", prosecutors wrote. "And prosecutors would naturally follow the money trail from Manafort's Ukrainian consulting activities", they wrote.

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