Fed Judge Rules Against Mueller: He Must Name Unidentified Persons in Manafort Indictment
A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that special counsel Robert Mueller must identify unnamed individuals in an indictment against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Last week, Mueller indicted Manafort and his former aide, Konstantin Kilimnik, on a series of charges related to lobbying work they did on behalf of Ukraine, The Hill reported.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Mueller’s team to turn over the names of several individuals and organizations referred to but not named in the indictment by Friday.
The Washington, D.C., judge’s ruling came in response to a motion filed by Manafort’s lawyers seeking more information about the superseding indictment, which included new charges against their client.
Mueller’s prosecutors opposed the motion, but Jackson wrote that it will help Manafort prepare for a complex case, which is set to go to trial on September 17.
“While the government may be correct that the law does not necessarily require the Court to order the requested disclosure, the Court has broad discretion to resolve a motion for a bill of particulars after weighing the parties’ interests, and here, defendant is obliged to prepare for a complex trial with a voluminous record within a relatively short period of time, and he should not have to be surprised at a later point by the addition of a new name or allegation,” Jackson wrote.
Politico reported that once the list is turned over, the government’s case on the lobbying issue will essentially be locked in “since prosecutors will be likely be unable to present evidence about businesses or people not on it.”
Last week, Mueller accused Manafort of witness-tampering. The arraignment for those charges has been set for Friday at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
CNBC reported that federal prosecutors will seek to have Manafort’s $10 million bail revoked or revised, which means the 68-year-old could be sent to jail to await his trial. He is currently on house arrest and required to wear two GPS tracking bracelets.
Manafort’s lawyers called the latest indictment “heavy-handed gamesmanship by the Special Counsel” based on “the thinnest of evidence.”
The attorneys contended that messages Manafort sent to two journalists could not have constituted witness tampering because “he is not aware of who the Special Counsel may call as witnesses.”
His lawyers also argued that his right to a fair trial “may have been irreparably damaged by the Special Counsel’s latest, very public and very specious” court filing.
In addition to facing charges in the District of Columbia, Mueller’s prosecutors have also charged Manafort in the Eastern District Court of Virginia.
The judge in that case, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, upbraided federal prosecutors last month, suggesting they lied about the scope of the Russia investigation, and the true purpose of the criminal case, which is to bring down President Donald Trump.
“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” Ellis said. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.”
The judge stated the 18-count indictment in the case, stemming from alleged both bank fraud and tax offenses against Manafort dating back to 2005 and 2007, seem to have nothing to do with the Russia collusion investigation.
Clearly, Ellis contended, the charges are meant to assert leverage over Manafort in order to get him to “sing.”
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