Former Prosecutor Breaks Down Why Mueller’s Indictment of Manafort Is ‘Shaky and Overcharged’
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has Washington spooked a day before Halloween. Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, along with his business partner Rick Gates were indicted on 12 charges Monday, ranging from tax fraud to conspiracy to launder money.
According to former prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy III, Mueller’s charges against Manafort appear “shaky and overcharged.”
McCarthy writes in National Review:
The offense of failing to register as a foreign agent (Count Ten) may be a slam-dunk, but it is a violation that the Justice Department rarely prosecutes criminally. There is often ambiguity about whether the person’s actions trigger the registration requirement, so the Justice Department’s practice is to encourage people to register, not indict them for failing to do so.
It may well be that Manafort and Gates made false statements when they belatedly registered as foreign agents, but it appears that Mueller’s office has turned one offense into two, an abusive prosecutorial tactic that flouts congressional intent.
Finally, the money-laundering conspiracy allegation (Count Two) seems far from slam-dunk. For someone to be guilty of laundering, the money involved has to be the proceeds of criminal activity before the accused starts concealing it by (a) moving it through accounts or changing its form by buying assets, etc., or (b) dodging a reporting requirement under federal law.
McCarthy concludes his op-ed asserting Mueller’s overzealousness paves the way for President Trump to deny the Special Counsel’s investigation has “actionable collusion case.”
This could be a “boon,” for President Trump, argues the former prosecutor and National Review fellow.
Yet, Mueller’s indictment of Manafort is far from the proof we need to dispel collusion talk. Yes, it is blatant proof that Mueller’s probe is nothing more than a witch hunt, but such notion has been obvious for quite some time. For months, it has been known the Trump campaign did not collude with the Kremlin.
The likes of Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Diane Feinstein, despite months of investigating, have yet to produce a single piece of ‘collusion’ evidence. Here’s Feinstein telling CNN’s Dana Bash back in September that no proof Jared Kushner colluded with Russia during the election.
When Dana Bash asked Feinstein if there is evidence that Jared Kushner helped the Russians with Facebook ads, she said, “no, not at this time”.
Video credit: NTK Network:
In a surprise raid on July 26th, FBI agents busted into Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia to collect documents and other materials related to the FBI probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. At the time, Manafort’s attorney raised concerns about how the raid was conducted. In order for the feds to obtain a warrant, a federal judge would have to determine that probable cause existed that a crime was committed. As part of the warrant, investigators attached an affidavit which contained a list of items that FBI agents hoped to collect. That’s where the trouble appears to be in Manafort’s case.
As a legal website, we were immediately drawn to the revelation that evidence was collected that may not have been covered by the warrant. That’s a serious development, and one that Manafort’s attorneys will no doubt seize upon. But, is it necessarily illegal? Did the agents do anything wrong? It’s not clear. It certainly could raise some serious constitutional issues that could taint the investigation.
“If they (investigators) had any kind of heads up, and they went beyond the scope of the warrant, that could be a problem,” Former federal prosecutor Henry Hockeimer, told LawNewz.
“Generally if agents seize privileged materials, (Manafort) could argue the entire search was tainted, they went beyond the scope of the warrant, a defense attorney could make some hay out of this,” Hockeimer added.