DOJ authorized Mueller to investigate allegations Manafort colluded with Russia
© Greg Nash

The Department of Justice gave special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE the authority to look into allegations of collusion between President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE's former campaign chairman, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortEric Holder: Trump releasing docs on Russia probe is 'dangerous abuse of power' Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation Legal expert says Manafort deal could help Trump in short term MORE, and the Russian government, according to reports.

The detail was included in a court filing Monday night in which Mueller's team defended its investigation, The Associated Press reported.

The filing says Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinDem lawmakers slam Trump’s declassification of Russia documents as ‘brazen abuse of power’ Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil MORE wrote in a memo last year regarding the special counsel's investigation that Mueller could investigate whether Manafort "committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials."

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According to the AP, Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, also said in the memo that Mueller could look into payments Manafort got from the Ukrainian government when former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was in office.

Prosecutors said in their court filing that they would "naturally look into any interactions they may have had before and during the campaign to plumb motives and opportunities to coordinate and to expose possible channels for surreptitious communications."

"And prosecutors would naturally follow the money trail from Manafort’s Ukrainian consulting activities,” they wrote.

The filing came after Manafort requested that a judge dismiss an indictment against him regarding activities prior to the 2016 presidential election, saying Mueller had exceeded his authority.

Manafort was indicted last year on money laundering charges and other alleged financial crimes.

Mueller is currently investigating Russian election interference and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Trump has repeatedly dismissed the probe as a witch hunt and has denied collusion between his campaign and Russia.