Manafort Lobbies Judge to Exclude Evidence From Home Raid

Paul Manafort walks from Federal District Court in Washington, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of conspiracy against the United States and other counts. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (CN) – Claiming it was the result of an unconstitutional search warrant, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has asked a federal judge to exclude from his criminal trial evidence the government seized during a raid of his home last July.

Manafort claims in a 10-page motion filed late Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that the search warrant that allowed government agents to comb his Alexandria, Virginia, home on July 26 was overly broad.

“While seizing agents naturally look for evidence of the subject’s guilt, the role of the warrant is to limit their discretion to determine what constitutes such evidence,” the motion states. “This warrant did no such thing.”

The search warrant, which is attached as an exhibit to Manafort’s motion, authorized the government so seek “any and all financial records” for Manafort, his wife and his associate Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in February. In addition, the warrant authorizes searches for records related to Manafort’s overseas lobbying work as well as computers and storage devices in his house.

The partially redacted affidavit additionally notes there was reason to believe Manafort stored evidence electronically and that investigators might be to pull valuable evidence his devices.

While the affidavit mentions that a source, whose name is redacted, told investigators that Manafort had a “drawer full of phones” and other potentially incriminating evidence at his home, Manafort claims nothing ties this evidence to his alleged crimes and therefore should not have been seized.

“The affidavit is so lacking in probable cause to believe that electronic devices used in the alleged commission of the subject offenses would be found in the Manafort home that no reasonable agent could have relied on it,” the motion states.

Agents also went outside the bounds of the warrant when conducting the search, seizing items like iPods that could not reasonably include any incriminating evidence, Manafort claims.

Finally, Manafort complains that the government has held onto his property for far too long without any hint that it is still reviewing what it seized.

Kevin Downing, Manafort’s attorney, asks U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to suppress “all evidence and fruits thereof” that came from the search. The government has until April 23 to respond to Manafort’s motion and a representative with the Special Counsel’s office on Tuesday declined to comment on the filing.

Manafort faces charges of conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agents Registration Act statements and false statements, all of which stem from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into interference in the 2016 presidential election.

 

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