Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller’s justification for indicting Robert Manafort hit an apparent snag this week with news that a secret memo authorizing the investigation was written days after the former Trump campaign chairman’s home was raided.
As Law & Crime reported, Manafort’s attorneys are arguing the special counsel was not granted the authority to indict their client since his alleged crimes were not directly connected to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In a statement this week, Mueller insisted that the move fell squarely within the scope of his investigation, providing both documentation from his initial appointment and a subsequent memo by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as evidence.
The second document sought to clarify that Mueller did meet the requirement that he “will be provided with a specific factual statement of the matter to be investigated.” Closer inspection of that memo, however, led to accusations that its date did not seem to line up with the trajectory of Mueller’s investigation.
Rosenstein’s memo was dated August 2, but Manafort’s home was raided seven days prior on July 26 (Law & Crime reported a difference of six days, but The Western Journal believes seven to be more accurate). This has led some analysts to accuse the Justice Department of attempting to justify the investigation after the fact.
In a Fox News Channel interview on Tuesday, one prominent attorney who has frequently criticized Mueller’s investigation said the latest development is disconcerting.
“There is something very wrong about that,” said Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz. “This special prosecutor is looking at everything. Where does it stop?”
Though Dershowitz argued for stricter parameters on the range of Mueller’s investigation, other experts predict the facts of the case will prove Manafort’s indictment was valid.
According to former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman, Mueller “persuasively” made his case that his probe into Manafort’s actions was proper given his mandate to investigate Russia’s meddling in the U.S. presidential election.
“Regardless, given that Manafort was the campaign manager from May 2016 to August 2016 — during the time of the Trump Tower meeting, which he attended, the Republican National Convention, for which the Russia platform was changed, and the leaked hacked DNC emails — we know of ample evidence related to collusion and Manafort to support this search warrant,” he said.
As for the memo released after Manafort’s home was raided, Goldman described it as a legally unnecessary effort on Rosenstein’s part to provide “more explicit detail” regarding the Mueller probe. The document referenced specific claims included in the indictment for an array of financial crimes. Rosenstein wrote that Manafort could be investigated for “crimes arising out of payments he received from the Ukrainian government before and after the tenure of President Viktor Yanukovych.”
The memo further indicated that the “allegations were within the scope of the investigation” as defined upon Mueller’s appointment and are “within the scope of the order.”
As CNBC reported, Manafort’s legal team will be arguing in court this week that his indictment should be dismissed.
Wednesday’s court appearance came just over three months after Manafort sued Mueller and Rosenstein in an attempt to define the extent of the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling.