Mueller, Manafort in Tug of War Over Redacted Info

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) –  Special Counsel Robert Mueller requested that a less redacted version of an August memo between he and acting deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein be submitted under seal, according to a motion filed Thursday evening.

On April 10, Andrew Weissmann, special assistant to Mueller, filed a response to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s request to dismiss an indictment against him.

The response included a classified and redacted Aug. 2 memorandum from Rosenstein to Mueller setting the scope of the investigation, which claims the former chairman may have colluded with Russian government officials in order to sway the 2016 presidential election.

According to three separate filings in the Eastern District of Virginia court on Thursday evening, special counsel’s request mirrors the one filed in a D.C. federal court on April 3.

Manafort will stand trial for a host of bank and tax fraud charges in both venues; first in July in Alexandria, Virginia and again in September in Washington, D.C.

The D.C. court ultimately granted the request to Mueller.

A grand jury in Virginia returned a multi-count indictment in February, alleging the billionaire businessman committed crimes in connection with payments he received from Russia backed political entities in the Ukraine.

Manafort moved to dismiss the indictment, challenging acting attorney general Rod Rosenstein’s authority to appoint Mueller as well as arguing that the prosecution has overreached their bounds by  investigating him beyond their jurisdiction “even if the order appointing him is valid,” the motion states.

Manafort claimed the only remedy for the overreach was a dismissal of the indictment altogether. Beyond jurisdictional issues, special counsel was appointed amid violations of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, he claimed.

Allowing the government to file the document under seal “is an appropriate way to balance the various interests at stake,” Weissmann wrote Thursday.

Also Thursday, Manafort filed a reply to the Special Council’s opposition to hand over unredacted search warrants, asking the court to review them to determine “whether the redacted information is relevant” to Manafort’s defense.

In the filing, Manafort’s attorneys said the identity of the informants is crucial to his defense.

“Without knowing the identity of the informants, the defense has no ability to investigate, among other things, whether any of the informants have a criminal record, whether any of the informants had an incentive to provide investigators with false information, and whether any of the informants were subjected to coercive law enforcement tactics,” the filing said.

Just a day earlier, Special Counsel pushed back at Manafort’s attempt to dismiss him from the investigation.

In a 30 page response filed in Alexandria, prosecutors argued that Rosenstein specifically confirmed allegations that Manafort committed “a crime or crimes arising out of payments [received] from the Ukrainian government before and during the tenure of [Ukraine’s] president Viktor Yanukovych.”

Manafort could not show “that the false-tax-return, foreign-bank-account-reporting, and bank-fraud allegations in the indictment are unauthorized,” Weissman argued.

“These charges arose from [his] efforts to funnel millions of dollars in payments from Ukraine to the United States, and then enjoy the tax-free use of the money. That conduct falls within the scope of the special counsel’s authority,” the April 11 filing stated.

Manafort’s attorneys also pleaded their client’s case again in a separate filing made in D.C. on Wednesday night.

The former Trump campaign chair continued to argue that two of the charges he faces in that venue– lying to investigators – overlapped and that at least one should be dropped in light of rules around double jeopardy.

His attorneys also filed a claim on April 10 in connection to his civil lawsuit against the Department of Justice. In that filing, Manafort maintains that special counsel Mueller continues to “unlawfully” investigate him.



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