by Susan Duclos, All News Pipeline:
Whenever the media goes into a rabid, foam at the mouth frenzy over a certain topic, the first question we see asked and have asked ourselves, is what are they trying to distract us from?
Paul Manafort, indicted by Robert Mueller for issues that occurred before the presidential campaign of Donald Trump began, issues that had been previously known by the Department of Justice, and did not “arise directly from the investigation,” and also goes beyond the original scope of the mandate in the initial DOJ press release, just filed a lawsuit against the DOJ, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and special counsel Robert Mueller.
For the past two days we have seen a complete media circus over a supposed “Steve Bannon – President Trump” feud in relation to excerpts from an upcoming book release, that has dominated the headlines, the television talking heads and bloggers, forums and websites all across the Internet, yet the Manafort lawsuit, which was barely covered by the media, could literally deem the entire Mueller investigation illegal…. from its inception.
When Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein released the announcement of appointing a special counsel (Appointment Order) into the Russian collusion investigation, he specified that Mueller would have the power to investigate and/or prosecute “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Campaign of President Donald Trump,” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,” and “any other matters within the scope of 28 CFR § 600.4“, which covers “Jurisdiction.” (See Special Counsel Order here)
When Mueller indicted Manafort, the charges had nothing to do with the original “jurisdiction,” meaning Russian collusion, nor did it arise directly from the initial investigation into links or coordination between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, which I initially thought was the impetus behind the Manafort lawsuit against the DOJ, Deputy AG Rosenstein and Mueller, until I read the entire lawsuit, where we see Manafort isn’t just trying to get the charges against him dropped as improperly investigated and charged, but he is asking the court to deem the entire investigation illegal because Rosenstein’s Special Counsel order violates DOJ regulations for Special Counsels.
In the 17 page complaint filed with the courts against the DOJ, Rosenstein and Mueller, Manafort’s counsel explains that the charges stemmed from actions going back over a decade and which Manafort had already spoken to the DOJ about in July of 2014, when Mr. Manafort voluntarily met with DOJ prosecutors and FBI agents, therefore the indictment was not gleaned from any matters that arose or might arise “directly” from the investigation.
What was unexpected in the complaint is Manafort is not just trying to get the charges against him dismissed, but is asking the court to rule that the Rosenstein order granting authority to Mueller was illegal in and of itself because it violates the DOJ’s special counsel regulations.
Page #9 is where the complaint becomes very interesting:
32. Consistent with 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a)—which provides that special counsels “shall also” have “authority to investigate and prosecute federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with,” their investigations—paragraph (b)(iii) of the Appointment Order provides that Mr. Mueller may also pursue “any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a).”
33. But paragraph (b)(ii) of the Appointment Order purports to grant Mr. Mueller further authority to investigate and prosecute “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” That grant of authority is not authorized by DOJ’s special counsel regulations. It is not a “specific factual statement of the matter to be investigated.” Nor is it an ancillary power to address efforts to impede or obstruct investigation under 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).
34. DOJ’s special counsel regulations do address “new matters that come to light in the course of” the special counsel’s “investigation,” but not by authorizing a grant of original jurisdiction to pursue them. 28 C.F.R. §600.4(b). To the contrary, DOJ’s special counsel regulations specify that, whenever the special counsel “concludes that additional jurisdiction” is required to address “new matters that come to light in the course of” an investigation, the special counsel must “consult with the Attorney General,” who must then “determine whether to include the additional matters within the Special Counsel’s jurisdiction or assign them elsewhere.” Id
35. The effort to convey that “additional” authority to pursue any matters that might come to light, as part of the grant of original jurisdiction, without the required consultation and decision by the Attorney General, exceeds the scope of appointment authority under 28 C.F.R. §600.4. It also defies the principles of limited power and accountability that animatethose limits on the Attorney General’s appointment authority. Under the Appointment Order, the Special Counsel’s authorityis not confined to the specific matters identified by politically accountable officials: The Appointment Order purports to grant authority to the Special Counsel to expand the scope of his investigation to new matters without the consent of—indeed, without even consulting—any politically accountable officer of the United States.
Emphasis mine. The two points in bold above are critical and in my opinion, the main point of the lawsuit. First Manafort’s counsel is arguing that under the DOJ’s own regulation regarding jurisdiction, Rosenstein violated the law by giving Mueller carte blanche.
The second point caught my attention because during Rosenstein’s December 2017 testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Lamar Smith attempted to get Rosenstein to answer whether he had been asked by Mueller at any point for more authority to “expand” his investigation to include additional jurisdiction, meaning issues unrelated to “coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Campaign of President Donald Trump,” or “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,” and Rosenstein wouldn’t answer the question, despite Representative Smith asking him point blank, multiple times.
Watch how Rosenstein consistently attempts to deflect from the question, and still never fully answers it.
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