Manafort Granted Extra Time to Bolster Motion to Dismiss Charges

WASHINGTON (CN) – The federal judge overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecution of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort granted him extra time Wednesday to file a brief in support of his motion to dismiss the superseding indictment against him.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson approved Manafort’s 3-page motion for an extension of time to file in a minute order.

Manafort filed the motion Wednesday, noting that the government had filed a 45-page response to his motion to dismiss late Monday evening. That filing contained a previously secret memo from Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein outlining the special counsel’s authority.

According to Manafort’s short filing, Mueller’s team had not previously provided him with a copy of the memo, which says Mueller is authorized to investigate whether Manafort colluded with Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as crimes arising from money he made performing work on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian party.

Manafort has alleged that the special counsel lacks the jurisdiction to indict him for crimes unrelated to Russian election interference or collusion, and has asked the court to toss the Feb. 23 five-count superseding indictment against him.

Manafort’s brief in support of his motion to dismiss was initially due April 9, but he asked for three additional days to prepare it.

“Given the length of the United States’ 45-page response, the numerous arguments raised in that response, and the revelation of the Acting Attorney General’s previously undisclosed August 2017 memorandum, Mr. Manafort’s counsel requires additional time to properly research and prepare a brief in reply,” his motion states.

His brief is now due on April 12 by 5 p.m.

Jackson had previously indicated she would not grant any more extensions in the briefing schedule for Manafort’s motion to dismiss, or extend the April 19 hearing date for the motion.

Manafort’s brief says the government does not oppose the motion, and that the brief extension will not delay the scheduled hearing.

But the government had plenty to say about Manafort’s request to dismiss one of two counts in the superseding indictment related to false statements prosecutors say he made to the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Act unit. Manafort says the counts are multiplicitous; the government says Mueller’s motion “lacks merit.”

“The two counts do not charge the same offense within the meaning of the Double Jeopardy Clause because proving a violation of the Foreign Agent Registration Act’s false-statements provision does not necessarily establish a violation of 18 U.S.C § 1001(a), and proving a Section 1001(a) violation does not necessarily establish a false-statements violation under FARA,” the government said in its 14-page response filed late Wednesday.

“But even if Manafort’s argument had merit, pretrial dismissal would be unwarranted because any multiplicity here presents only a problem of multiple punishments that can and should be addressed post-trial if the jury convicts Manafort on both counts. Accordingly, Manafort’s motion should be denied.”

In a separate response, also filed late Monday, the government said Manafort’s requests to dismiss a money-laundering conspiracy charge and to strike the related forfeiture action are equally misguided.

“Manafort’s challenge to the first object of the conspiracy – international promotion money laundering – flows from a basic misunderstanding of the charge against him,” the 19-page response states. “That conspiracy object rests not on Manafort’s ‘personal expenditures,’ but on allegations that Manafort and his co-conspirators funneled money through accounts in Cyprus and Saint Vincent & the Grenadines to pay U.S. lobbying and law firms, among others, to act as unregistered agents of the government of Ukraine and its then-president, in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

“The offense of conspiracy to commit international promotion money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) and (a)(2)(A), can validly rest on allegations of an agreement to fund, through international money transfers, the commission of a crime that meets the definition of specified unlawful activity, as FARA does.”

Prosecutors added that because the count states a valid money-laundering offense and is a crime capable of generating proceeds under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Manafort’s request to strike the forfeiture allegation should be denied as well.

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