Mueller lawyers seek to prevent their ouster with dual filings
Lawyers from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team have filed as special assistant U.S. attorneys in their case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a move that could make it harder for a federal judge to move the case to a different court.
Politico reported Monday that several attorneys on Mueller’s team signed off on court filings as both representatives of Mueller’s office, and as special assistant United States attorneys.
The latter designation potentially gives them the authority to focus on matters beyond the special counsel’s mandate.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, told Politico that the status would give them the same powers as a regular U.S. attorney.
Manafort’s lawyers have motioned to dismiss the charges against him in Virginia, arguing that Mueller exceeded the scope of his legal authority by investigating the former Trump associate’s business dealings.
Politico reported that if Mueller’s lawyers obtained their special status before the first indictment against Manafort, it would likely undermine that argument.
Mueller’s team provided the judge in the case, T.S. Ellis III, with an unredacted memo detailing the scope of his investigation last week.
Ellis requested the full memo in order to assess the validity of Manafort’s claim that the special counsel had exceeded its scope.
The judge questioned prosecutors at a May 4 court hearing as to why they were interested in Manafort’s financial dealings.
He suggested that Mueller’s attorneys “don’t really care” about bank fraud and tax fraud charges against Manafort, but rather “care about what information Mr. Manafort can give [them] that would reflect on Mr. Trump.”
Manafort’s lawyers also sought to dismiss the charges against him in Washington, D.C., but a judge there rejected Manafort’s argument.