Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is striking back against the charges special counsel Robert Mueller brought against him in the Russia investigation. But he’s not denying them.
Manafort filed suit on Wednesday against Mueller, DOJ Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein, and the entire Department of Justice, alleging that the Russia probe has far exceeded its mandate to investigate links between the Trump campaign and Russia by digging into Manafort’s personal finances dating back to 2005. As a result of the wide scope, Manafort was charged with multiple counts of tax fraud and money laundering related to work he did on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party.
The suit challenges the validity of the law that allowed Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel, Mueller, who would have the authority to investigate "links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump" but also gave Mueller "the additional authority to pursue 'any matters that arose or may arise directly from' that investigation."
The suit claims that Manafort’s alleged crimes do not pertain to his work with the Trump campaign but with his failure to register as a foreign agent when doing work for the Party of Regions in Ukraine. Manafort's lawyers, however, don’t deny that work, nor the money laundering charges that accompanied his attempts to hide it. In fact, they argue everyone has known since at least 2007, when news outlets widely reported Manafort’s ties to ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
It's unclear whether the charges against Manafort that have been made public are the only charges against him or if there are other charges coming to Manafort or his longtime business partner Rick Gates, both of whom pleaded not guilty and are being held on bond.
Other former campaign officials Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their contact with Russian officials during the campaign.