Manafort’s lawyers want Mueller to name alleged accomplices cited in criminal indictment

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Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Lawyers for Paul Manafort, the onetime chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, asked a federal judge Friday to order special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to release the names of alleged accomplices accused of helping Manafort commit crimes.

Manafort’s legal team also asked the court to direct Mueller to specify each allegedly false and misleading statement their client is accused of making, including to his tax preparers about his control of foreign bank accounts and to the Justice Department about his alleged lobbying work in 2016. Without that information, Manafort’s lawyers said he cannot adequately prepare for trial.

Among other details that Manfort’s lawyers want Mueller to disclose are the identifications of people said to have helped him and his business partner engage in an alleged multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign in the United States. Mueller’s team says the alleged lobbying campaign was carried out at the direction of Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych, his pro-Russian Party of Regions and the Government of Ukraine.

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment. The flurry of activity late Friday in the U.S. District Court in Washington came as Manafort’s lawyers faced a motions deadline. Mueller’s legal team has until April 23 to respond.

Manafort’s request is his latest move to challenge the legitimacy of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and allegations that Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to gain an advantage over his opponent, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Manafort, 69, and his longtime deputy, Rick Gates, 45, pleaded not guilty in October to a 12-count indictment accusing them of conspiring to defraud the United States by laundering $30 million from their work in Ukraine.

Gates, who also served as a top official in Trump’s campaign, pleaded guilty in February to reduced charges of conspiracy and lying to the FBI and struck a deal to cooperate and provide information to Mueller’s investigation. Mueller subsequently added tax evasion and bank fraud charges against Manafort in federal court in Alexandria, Va.

Manafort has not been charged with any crimes connected to Trump’s presidential campaign, where he served as campaign chief for five months before he resigned amid news reports about his activities in Ukraine.

On Thursday night, Mueller’s team indicated that the investigation into Manafort is ongoing. Mueller’s prosecutors revealed in court filings that they had used a March 9 search warrant to get information tied to five AT&T phone numbers. That search, they said, is related to “ongoing investigations that are not the subject of either of the current prosecutions involving Manafort.” They also moved to seize bank accounts at three financial institutions last year.

Manafort’s attorneys argued in a January lawsuit that the Justice Department exceeded its legal authority when Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein ordered Mueller to investigate “links and/or coordination” between the Russian government and Trump campaign, as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from” that investigation. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson expressed doubts about Manafort’s lawsuit during a hearing earlier this week.

Mueller’s team has sought to counter the arguments by Manafort’s attorneys that the special counsel probe has exceeded its legal authority. Court filings submitted Monday include an August 2017 memo indicating that Rosenstein authorized Mueller to investigate whether Manafort “committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials.”

Earlier this week, Alex van der Zwaan, 33, who admitted that he lied to Mueller’s team about his phone calls and emails with Gates, was ordered to served 30 days in prison. On Friday, the court revealed that van der Zwaan will be sent to a federal minimum-security prison in Allenwood, Pa. He is the first person to be sentenced in Mueller’s investigation.

Spencer Hsu contributed to this report.

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