Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, sued special counsel Robert Mueller and the Justice Department on Wednesday.
The civil complaint by Manafort, filed in federal court in Washington, argued that prosecutors had overstepped their bounds by charging him for conduct that he said was unrelated to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Manafort alleged in the complaint that he’s been “injured” by the investigation, which has caused him “significant reputational harm, has exposed him to invasions of his personal privacy, and has forced him to incur substantial costs and expenses to defend himself.”
Manafort and his former business partner Richard Gates, 45, were told to turn themselves in to federal authorities last fall. The charges against Manafort and Gates were among the first brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his probe into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
Manafort, 68, pleaded not guilty to all charges and was placed under house arrest with a $10 million bond. While under house arrest, Manafort worked on an op-ed with a colleague who was “assessed to have ties” to a Russian intelligence service, according to recently filed court papers.
Manafort’s next court hearing is scheduled for the morning of Jan. 16.
Manafort has been the subject of a longstanding investigation over his past dealings in Ukraine several years ago – for which he didn’t file as a foreign agent until June 2017. But Mueller has incorporated that investigation into his own probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump associates.
What kind of foreign work did Manafort do?
A GOP operative who worked for former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Manafort reportedly began his work with Republican politics in the 1970s.
Eventually, Manafort was hired by controversial former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russia politician who was ousted from power twice. After Yanukovych was eventually elected president in 2010, Manafort reportedly stayed on as an adviser and worked with other projects in Eastern Europe, including the Party of Regions political party.
Manafort also worked for Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. In 2005, Manafort came up with a plan to influence U.S. politics, business dealings and the media in order to “greatly benefit the Putin Government,” according to the Associated Press.
Deripaska, 49, is a close Vladimir Putin ally and signed a $10 million annual contract with Manafort in 2006. They maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, the Associated Press reported.
Financial records obtained by the New York Times indicated that Manafort was in debt to pro-Russian interests by up to $17 million prior to joining Trump’s campaign.
He also took at least 18 trips to Moscow and frequently talked to Putin allies for about 10 years, McClatchy reported. He also traveled to Kiev at least 19 times in 20 months after the February 2014 of Ukraine’s pro-Russia leader.
How was Manafort involved with Trump’s campaign?
Manafort joined then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign in March 2016 to help wrangle delegates ahead of the Republican National Convention in Ohio, something he successfully did for former President Gerald Ford.
Just two months later, Manafort became campaign chairman.
Manafort’s resignation from the campaign was announced on August 19, 2016, after the New York Times reported that he received $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments from Yanukovych’s pro-Russian party between 2007 and 2012.
Along with Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s eldest son, Manafort met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskay in June 2016. She was said to have damaging information on Trump’s campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, which was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
What has the White House said?
Manafort’s alleged actions took place before he joined the Trump campaign, the president said on Twitter.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also downplayed Manafort’s involvement with the campaign in a press briefing.
Could he help investigators discover if Trump associates colluded with Russia?
Mueller took over the criminal investigation into Manafort’s financial dealings as he looks into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the White House.
In recent months, Manafort has turned over documents to congressional committees investigating election interference. Judiciary committee leaders have been in talks with Manafort regarding private interviews.
Manafort’s house was raided earlier this summer by FBI investigators, and he was reportedly wiretapped by investigators – before and after the election.
A secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court order authorized the wiretapping of Manafort in 2014. It was discontinued in 2016, but investigators obtained another warrant that lasted until early 2017, CNN reported.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.