Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has accused one of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s most ruthless team members of leaking details about an alleged money laundering scheme to the Associated Press. As a result of the leaks, Manafort claimed in a Monday night court filing, he has been deprived of his right to a fair trial.
Specifically, Manafort alleged that lead special counsel prosecutor Andrew Weissmann (dubbed Mueller’s “Pit Bull” in the New York Times) leaked details about the Russia probe during a questionable meeting with four journalists from the AP last year, before he was indicted.
Manafort’s defense based his accusation on the reportage of investigative journalist Sara Carter. According to Carter’s sources, the meeting was set up in April of 2017 to “discuss an investigation into Paul Manafort’s financial record.” Carter claimed that FBI officials were not pleased with Weissmann’s meeting, and filed a complaint about it with the Justice Department which argued that “Weissmann didn’t follow normal procedures for dealing with journalists.”
The day after the meeting, the AP reportedly published a bombshell expose disclosing an alleged money laundering scheme involving the former campaign chairman.
The story revolved around payments made to Manafort recorded in a “black ledger” and his associations with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. In the filing, Manafort argued that it was “an illegal leak of grand jury secrets and classified material.”
Manafort asked the court to hold a hearing on possible unauthorized government leaks in his case.
A spokesperson for the AP stated Monday: “It is the long-standing policy of The Associated Press to refrain from discussing our sources.”
Deripaska is a name that pops up from time to time in the collusion narrative, though it has been conspicuously absent from Mueller’s indictments — possibly because the oligarch has a history of working with Mueller’s FBI. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told The Hill’s John Solomon last week that he believes Mueller has “a conflict of interest” because of the FBI’s past dealings with the Russian.
“The real question becomes whether it was proper to leave [Deripaska] out of the Manafort indictment, and whether that omission was to avoid the kind of transparency that is really required by the law,” Dershowitz said.
President Trump accused special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of having “unrevealed conflicts of interest” in a tweet earlier this month.
“The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in place that actually protects people from injustice…and just wait ‘till the Courts get to see your unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!” Trump tweeted.
Manafort also asked the court to look into other leaks about the Russia probe and the Steele dossier coming out of the intelligence community:
In addition to the AP meeting, Manafort’s defense cites alleged leaks to CNN and the New York Times, claiming that there is “strong evidence that the highest-level FBI and intelligence officials authorized leaks to the press and, in fact, leaked themselves.” The defense names former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
“Not only is leaking classified information a felony, but it was also apparently intended to create the false public narrative that Mr. Manafort was colluding with Russian intelligence officials during the Trump presidential campaign,” Manafort’s defense wrote in the court filing.
“In light of the mass media coverage of these leaks in print, on television, radio and the internet, it seems unlikely that there is a jury questionnaire, instruction or change of venue that could cure the irreparable harm to Mr. Manafort’s constitutional rights resulting from leaks by the highest-level government officials,” they added.
According to Law and Crime, Manafort has a pending trial scheduled for July 10. His other case on money laundering allegations is set for trial in Washington, D.C., on September 17.