On Wednesday, former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort filed a civil complaint in federal court accusing Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Department Of Justice (DOJ) of overreaching in criminal charges brought against Manafort last fall. Manfort has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Manafort’s lawsuit takes issue with the fact that the special counsel’s investigation is targeting alleged events that took place long before Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign began.

Attorneys for Manafort argue that Mueller, after being directed last May by the DOJ to investigate any suspected ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, has revisited previously disclosed meetings Manafort had made as a lobbyist for a Ukrainian political party. Those meetings were included in the 12-count money laundering and tax evasion indictment brought against him last October.

Though experts, such as former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, have dismissed the suit as “silly” and “desperate,” a spokeswomen for the DOJ agreed that Manafort, as a defendant, “is entitled to file whatever he wants.”

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Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation has, of late, been taking increasing criticism from President Trump and his allies who have accused Mueller of being too biased to conduct a fair investigation. With the introduction of this lawsuit, Manafort has joined the dog-pile of critics now bashing Mueller. Legal analysts suggest Manafort may be looking to seek a pardon from the president by displaying his loyalty and refusal to buckle under the weight of the DOJ charges.

However, experts see an unexpected silver lining. The civil suit may give Mueller the chance to break his silence and defend himself. If a federal court sides with Mueller, it would put to rest the concerns about his legal authority in the case.


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