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Trump's ex-campaign manager sues Justice Department

January 4, 2018

Lawyers representing Paul Manafort have argued that a probe into possible collusion has overstepped its legal limits. Manafort has sought to overturn charges against him of conspiracy and money laundering.

Paul Manafort in front of the US District Court of Washington DC
Image: picture-alliance/newscom/K. Dietsch

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."

Read more: Why the Russia probes don't cripple Trump's foreign policy

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.'"

Read more: Lobbyists and politicians: What are the regulations?

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.

Read more: Deutsche Bank 'expects to face Trump-Russia probe'

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)