US President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort on Wednesday filed a legal complaint against the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller, the former director of the FBI who is investigating possible collusion between officials close to Trump and Russia.
Manafort's lawyers have accused Mueller and the Justice Department of overstepping their legal boundaries after prosecutors indicted the former Trump campaign manager in October on conspiracy and money laundering charges.
"The investigation has focused on Mr. Manafort's offshore business dealings that date back to as early as 2005 — about a decade before the Trump presidential campaign launched — and have been known to the United States government for many years," the legal complaint said.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said while the lawsuit was "frivolous," Manafort was "entitled to file whatever he wants."
Investigation exceeds 'original jurisdiction'
Manafort's legal complaint seeks to overturn the indictment brought against him in October, saying that it has targeted aspects that are not linked to the investigation's official task.
According to his lawyers, Mueller's investigation has exceeded its "original jurisdiction to investigate 'any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.'"
The charges against Manafort concern his dealings with Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine's ousted pro-Russian president, that have "no connection whatsoever to the 2016 presidential election or even to Donald Trump," Manafort's lawyers said.
Targeting possible collusion
In October, a federal grand jury approved an indictment against Manafort and his associate Rick Gates, marking the first charges to come out of the probe into possible collusion between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia.
According to the October indictment, Manafort and Gates engaged in a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign at the direction of Yanukovych, a staunch Kremlin ally.
Prosecutors believe that both men moved more than $75 million (€62.4 million) through offshore accounts, while Manafort laundered more than $18 million (€15 million).
While Mueller's investigation is tasked with investigating possible collusion, it is also trying to determine whether Trump or his aides attempted to obstruct the investigation. In May, Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey for what he at one point described as "this Russia thing."
ls/sms (Reuters, AP, dpa)