Mueller OK'd to probe Manafort-Russia collusion allegations

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DOJ attorney Daniel Schwei said that if Manafort could use the APA to challenge the appointment order, it would open the door to APA lawsuits challenging agencies any time they hire new employees for specific tasks - even before those employees take any actions.

A federal judge tore into all of the legal arguments that a lawyer for President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort made on Wednesday in his long-shot civil case to convince her that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has run amok and should be reined in.

He did not elaborate on what charges he believed could be pressed against his client.

Manafort, who was indicted past year on 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 filed a civil lawsuit on Jan 3 against Mr Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Justice Department official who appointed him, in a key legal test of how far the special counsel's mandate extends. An amended complaint is expected. Panera Bread website leaked customer data The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE in his lawsuit seeking to limit the scope of Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE's special counsel investigation, Reuters reports. In a report unclassified in January 2017, USA intelligence agencies said the Kremlin wanted to help Trump.

Pressing the lawyer repeatedly on the issue, Jackson questioned how Manafort could bring a challenge to future charges Mueller might bring when such harm has not yet crystallized.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs the Capitol after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign in Washington, June 21, 2017. Manafort's motions to dismiss the charges Mueller's team has brought in Washington and Virginia federal district courts.

Arguments for that case are scheduled for this Wednesday, before the same judge overseeing the criminal case against Manafort.

Gates has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller's team. A version of the memo filed in court showed that Rosenstein signed off on an investigation of whether Manafort "committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials" and of Manafort's work as an worldwide political consultant in Ukraine before joining Trump's campaign.

The new filings show that Rosenstein specifically approved lines of investigation for the special counsel in an August 2017 memo. The indictments charge Manafort with earning tens of millions of dollars in Ukraine, laundering much of that money, failing to register as a foreign agent and cheating on his taxes. 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. Downing disputed the extent of Manafort's ties to Russia - Manafort never had an office there, he said - and argued that the Russia section should be interpreted as only applying to activities related to the Trump campaign. "And prosecutors would naturally follow the money trail from Manafort's Ukrainian consulting activities", they wrote.

Downing argued that more explicit authorization is required "to keep a special counsel from doing whatever he wants to", citing a history of alleged abuses of power by independent prosecutors.