Paul Manafort is asking a federal judge in Washington to completely dismiss the five criminal charges filed against him. Manafort is arguing that special counsel Robert Mueller had no right to indict him for things he did before he joined the Trump team as chairman of the campaign in 2016.
“Those issues simply have no connection to the alleged coordination with the Russian government or the 2016 presidential election,” Manafort’s lawyer wrote in a motion to dismiss the case.
Manafort’s team does acknowledge that the Justice Department told Mueller to prosecute any criminal action he discovers in the probe into possible Russian collusion. But the filing says, “It is a blank check the special counsel has cashed, repeatedly.”
The former Trump campaign chair also asked the court on Wednesday to dismiss a conspiracy money laundering charge he faces, as well as the government’s request for him to forfeit assets and property. Manafort argues that even though he did fail to register to lobby in the U.S. for foreign governments, he did not make his consulting income illegally. And foreign lobbying registration violations make up most of his D.C. criminal indictment. Allegations that he laundered money through foreign bank accounts so that he would not have to pay taxes are a part of a completely separate case he faces from Mueller in Virginia.
And finally, Manafort asked the court to dismiss one of two charges he faces that allege he made false statements in registering his foreign lobbying work. He says they are duplicative. He faces a total of five criminal counts in the case, so if the Judge is lenient in these requests, that would be cut down to three.
These requests outlined on Wednesday are in line with an earlier lawsuit Manafort filed against Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Justice Department, for going outside the scope of the special counsel’s authority. A hearing for that case is set to be heard by the same judge overseeing Manafort’s criminal case on April 4th.
These steps indicate that Manafort is not only continuing to maintain his innocence but also staying at odds with the prosecutors. Rick Gates was charged alongside of Manafort and has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and to lying to investigators. Gates has also agreed to help Mueller as needed.
The core charges against Manafort involve an alleged plan to use shell companies and offshore bank accounts to hide earnings from his lobbying work for Ukrainian politicians. He allegedly did this for years before he joined the Trump campaign. Manafort contends that the Ukrainian work “has no connection to either the Russian government or the 2016 election,” Wednesday’s filing said.
If you total up all the criminal charges that Manafort could face, there would be 18. They could send him to a 305-year maximum prison sentence if he was found guilty. These charges relate to alleged federal bank fraud and tax crimes in Virginia.
The charges he presently faces in D.C. carry a likely 15 to 20-year sentence, Manafort is 68 years old. His trials before juries are set to begin in July and September. If he were to change his plea to guilty, Mueller could force him to share details he knows about Trump campaign officials and their connections with Russians.
Manafort remains locked down under house arrest in his apartment in Alexandria, Virginia. He has not been able to convince the judge in D.C. to approve assets that would secure his $10 million in bail.
Mueller’s prosecutors continue to believe Manafort is a flight risk, and both judges have agreed. So Manafort currently wears two GPS monitors so that both the DC and Virginia federal courts can keep track of his movements.
Do you think this judge is going to be lenient with Manafort?
Credit: CNN Politics