WASHINGTON — Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort filed suit against special counsel Robert Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Department of Justice on Wednesday ― a suit that experts quickly said has little chance of success.
In his complaint, Manafort alleges that Mueller’s investigation “diverged from its focus on alleged collusion between the Russian government and President Trump’s campaign.”
“The investigation of Mr. Manafort is completely unmoored from the Special Counsel’s original jurisdiction to investigate ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,’” the complaint reads. “It has instead focused on unrelated, decade-old business dealings — specifically, Ukraine political campaign consulting activities of Mr. Manafort.”
“The lawsuit is frivolous but the defendant is entitled to file whatever he wants,” a Justice Department spokesperson told HuffPost in an email.
Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates were indicted by a federal grand jury in October and were charged with a dozen counts involving money laundering, failure to file foreign bank reports, and false statements. Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein appointed Mueller, a former director of the FBI, to the position of special counsel looking into the Trump campaign’s alleged dealings with Russia back in May. Rosenstein had been overseeing the Russia probe after Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from the investigation.
The lawsuit, filed by the same attorney representing Manafort in his felony criminal case, contends that Rosenstein’s appointment order gave Mueller “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.”
“I’ll hand it to Manafort’s lawyers: they’re good at convincing their client to spend money on filings that will go absolutely no where,” tweeted Matt Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman during the Obama administration.
On Twitter Wednesday, University of Texas School of Law professor Stephen Vladeck reiterated his September testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September. Vladeck said then that special counsel regulations don’t raise the same issues as independent counsels, which came under scrutiny for going outside their mandate and allowing another branch of government ― the legislative branch ― to oversee the workings of the executive branch. A special counsel was much “less of an intrusion” than an independent counsel, Vladeck said, and “the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigative jurisdiction is entirely within the control of the Attorney General; and the Attorney General retains the power to oversee the Special Counsel’s investigation — as provided by the Executive Branch’s own regulation, rather than congressional mandate.”
Read the suit in full below.