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Mueller Facing Challenges Over Growing Russia Probe

Mueller Facing Challenges Over Growing Russia Probe
(AP)

By    |   Saturday, 04 November 2017 02:15 PM

Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian involvement marked some early victories this week with indictments filed against President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, but the former FBI director and his team is bracing itself against the challenges that are coming about the growing scope of the probe.

Manafort's legal team Friday filed paperwork saying that he is anticipating pretrial motions questioning the legal basis for evidence obtained against his client, reports Politico, and Trump's attorney said he'll oppose a probe of the president's older real estate dealings or financial matters.

"We'd view that as outside the scope of legitimate inquiry," Trump's personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, told Politico, adding that if that happens, he's ready to formally object to either Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein if the investigation reaches too far.

On Friday, Kevin Downing, Manafort’s lead attorney said in his filed document that he is likely to file pretrial motions questioning "the legal basis for and sufficiency of the charges, the suppression of evidence improperly obtained by search warrant, subpoena or otherwise.”

The charges against Manafort and Gates involve accusations that they conspired to defraud the United States and of several counts of money laundering. None of the charges handed down against either man mention Trump by name.

Trump could, however, be issued a gag order because of his frequent comments about the case, a prosecutor who worked on the Watergate case told Politico.

"It would be unprecedented, but he is interfering with the government’s right to a fair trial," the prosecutor, Nick Akerman said, after Trump's comments about former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.

This week, it was announced that Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty in early October to charges that he'd lied to the FBI in connection to the Russian investigation. The administration was quick to dismiss Papadopoulos' role with the campaign, but a photo has surfaced showing him at a policy meeting with Trump and other officials, including then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, the current attorney general.

Even though Papadopoulos has already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in connection Russians, he could still be called in as a witness in further proceedings. And Trump has already publicly panned him as a "liar" and a "low-level volunteer," while insisting there is no proof of collision between himself and Russia.

Further news reports indicated that Papadopoulos mentioned during the meeting that he could connect Trump with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but others present, including Sessions, shot that down.

Politico reports that Mueller's team has responded to the court after Manafort's lawyer papers that it would need three weeks to present its case.

“’Distort, detract, deny’ is a common playbook for defense lawyers,” Julie Myers Wood, a former Whitewater prosecutor, commented. "If the allegations are serious here, I wouldn’t expect the lawyers to sit back or withhold any tool in a quest to undermine the perception of Mueller’s legitimacy.”

Trump himself has said he'll consider it a violation if Mueller's team investigates his personal finances.

Former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste said he expects challenges against Mueller to continue, but at the same time, "Mueller's authority to act is on firm legal ground."

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday that he has not heard much pressure to pass legislation that could interfere with Muller's investigation.

"There’s been no indication that the president or the White House are not cooperating with the special counsel," the Kentucky Republican told MSNBC host Hugh Hewitt. "I think the view up here is let him do his job."

However, on Friday, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, introduced legislation in the House that tells Mueller to resign over his lack of leadership in pursuing revelations about the 2010 Uranium One deal approved when Hillary Clinton was secretary of State.

Back in August, though, Sens. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina and Chris Coons introduced a bill to allow a special counsel who is removed from his duties to challenge the firing in court. In addition, a bipartisan bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina., and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey requires a judge to sign off on requests to remove a special prosecutor.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian involvement marked some early victories this week with indictments filed against President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, but the former FBI director and his team...
mueller, russia, probe
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2017-15-04
Saturday, 04 November 2017 02:15 PM
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