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."

Go deeper

Deadly storm Zeta pummels parts of Alabama and Florida

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Former Hurricane Zeta has killed at least one person after a downed power line electrocuted a 55-year-old in Louisiana as the storm's powerful winds and heavy rainfall moved into Alabama overnight.

What's happening: After "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi," Zeta weakened to a tropical storm over central Alabama early on Thursday, per the National Hurricane Center.

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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