(National Sentinel) Legal Defense: Lawyers for former Donald J. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort have filed suit against special counsel Robert Mueller and the Department of Justice, alleging both overreached with criminal charges brought against their client last fall that included tax evasion and money laundering.
As reported by Politico, the lawsuit also strikes at Mueller’s legitimacy and credibility as special counsel. In a 17-page complaint, Manafort’s attorney argue that Mueller exceeded authority given him by the Justice Department in May to investigate any links or coordination between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign.
Also, the complaint argues that DoJ gave Mueller too much power initially when it approved him to pursue “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
If the court refuses to strike down Mueller’s appointment, the lawsuit makes several other suggestions, such as setting aside Mueller’s indictments and declaring he does not have the authority to investigate business dealings that are not part of his original mandate.
Also, the lawsuit suggests that the court stop him from investigating any matters beyond the scope of the original appointment, or “any other relief as may be just and proper.”
“The principle that government must be both limited in power and accountable to the people lies at the core of our constitutional traditions. That principle must be zealously guarded against creeping incursions,” Manafort attorneys Kevin Downing and Thomas Zehnle wrote in the lawsuit.
The case was was filed in the same venue — the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia — that oversees Mueller’s criminal case against both Manafort and former Trump 2016 campaign aide Rick Gates.
The suit names DOJ, Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as co-defendants.
Manafort’s attorneys also note a 1999 decision by Congress to allow for the lapse of the law establishing the independent counsel office, following a years-long investigation of President Bill Clinton by Kenneth Starr.
While noting that Rosenstein appointed Mueller under DoJ regulations, the suit argues the special counsel has been given “carte blanche to investigate and pursue criminal charges in connection with anything he stumbles across while investigating, no matter how remote from the specific matter identified as the subject of the Appointment Order.”
Legal experts note that under current rules, Mueller is not “independent” but rather essentially a Justice Department employee, meaning he works for Trump, ultimately.
There has been some speculation that even if Manafort is convicted, the president would pardon him.
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