Mar 15, 2018

Paul Manafort asks judge to dismiss Mueller indictment in D.C.

Paul Manafort. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Paul Manafort's lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, filed in D.C. by special counsel Robert Mueller, which includes five charges against Manafort for failing to register as a foreign agent and for money laundering.

The argument: His lawyers, Kevin Downing and Thomas Zehnle, say the indictment isn't fair because Mueller is operating outside of the scope of his initial duty: to determine whether and how Russia worked with the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. Downing and Zehnle argued that Mueller's exceeding "power is not merely tantamount to a blank check. It is a blank check the Special Counsel has cashed repeatedly."

The other side: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Russia probe and Mueller's actions, told USA Today, "The special counsel is not an unguided missile... I'm very confident that when the history of this era is written, it will reflect that the department was operated with integrity."

But Manafort's team is taking issue with Mueller investigating the former Trump campaign manager for things that happened before 2016. In particular, Manafort's "suspicious" banking activity in 2014, which the FBI decided was "too petty" then to charge him for anything, according to a BuzzFeed review of internal FBI emails.

  • Another set of documents in the motion explains why, according to his lawyers, two of the five counts "charge a single offense" regarding his issues with registering as a foreign agent. Therefore, they argue, these two charges could unfairly influence the jury by making it seem like Manafort "has committed not one, but several, offenses."
  • Manafort's team filed a similar motion to dismiss said charges in January.

What's next: U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson has scheduled a hearing for April 19 to discuss this motion. Manafort faces 18 other charges from Mueller in Virginia (regarding bank fraud, tax fraud, and issues with reporting overseas bank account activity) that his defense team will likely challenge after the April 19 hearing.

What they're saying: "It's clear the defense has a Plan A, B, C, and so on, which is logical," said a person in the litigation communications industry who has been following the case. "This likely won’t be resolved for years even if Paul Manafort is successful in his initial motion to dismiss these charges. He appears to have a well thought-out defense and is playing the long game."

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Infections number tops 140,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now infected over 142,000 people in the U.S. — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 had killed over 2,400 people in the U.S. by Sunday night. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,000 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 2,600 Sunday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 12 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 721,584 — Total deaths: 33,958 — Total recoveries: 149,122.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 142,106 — Total deaths: 2,479 — Total recoveries: 2,686.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health