Only one former Trump associate to have faced charges from Special Counsel Robert Mueller so far remains resolute in their refusal to cooperate with authorities. That former associate is former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is facing not one, but two cases against him. One case is in Washington, D.C., court and covers his failure to register as a foreign agent while working for Russia-aligned interests and the Ukraine and money laundering.
The other case is in Virginia court and covers concurrent allegations of bank and tax fraud.
Details in that latter case that could doom Manafort to prosecution are the focus of a new report from POLITICO, which explains that a number of attorneys working for Mueller are not going after the former Trump campaign manager only on the special counsel’s authority. Rather, at least Andrew Weissmann, Greg Andres, Kyle Freeny, and Scott Meisler are all special assistant United States attorneys operating in affiliation with the main United States attorney’s office in the area.
In a rare comment to the press, Mueller spokesperson Peter Carr confirmed that yes, some of the attorneys working for Mueller have the SAUSA status. Thus, the reasoning goes, the judge in the case against Manafort is more bound than was previously understood from pushing the special counsel’s office’s lawyers out of the case. Carr, while speaking to POLITICO, referenced the fact that there is a local federal court rule in place in Virginia allowing federal prosecutors to take on cases if they are “appearing pursuant to the authority of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia” — which, apparently, is exactly what some of the attorneys associated with Mueller’s office have done.
As mentioned, this detail of the special counsel’s case against Manafort means that it will be that much more difficult for the former Trump associate to escape scrutiny from the special counsel’s office. He has sought to do so in the past by claiming — as others in Trump’s orbit have done — that the office overstepped the bounds of its authority in going after him.
Undercutting that line of reasoning, North Carolina attorney Haley White explained:
‘As special assistant U.S. attorneys, they are not confined to the scope the special counsel is acting under. They can potentially have the ability to go outside that scope… They have all the powers and abilities that just a regular U.S. attorney would have.’
There hasn’t yet been an angry tweetstorm from President Trump bemoaning the fact that some of the attorneys going after his former campaign manager have their newly highlighted special status, but with the way that things go, there might be. He has gone after Mueller’s team with a renewed fury following raids on his past lawyer Michael Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room recently — but it’s not as though Mueller is rushing to wrap up his investigation in light of that fury.
On the contrary, Mueller is continuing to score victories in his efforts. One such victory is the fact that a federal judge in D.C. court recently ruled in his favor and threw out Manafort’s challenge to his authority there. How the Virginia case will go, however, is apparently more up in the air at present.
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