FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN MOVES TO DISMISS INDICTMENT
The indictment that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort faces on charges of money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent is fatally flawed because of defects in the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Manafort’s attorneys argued in a new court filing Wednesday night.
In a motion seeking dismissal of all five charges pending against Manafort in federal court in Washington, attorneys for the former Trump confidant and veteran lobbyist contend that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave Mueller too much authority when he was appointed last May.
Money laundering, a federal offense for which Manafort has been charged, is a serious federal criminal offense involving the illegal use of money that was obtained through criminal activity. These charges are often filed in cases involving organized crime and white-collar crime. The term “laundering” refers to the way in which “dirty” money is cycled through legitimate businesses in order to remove any links to the criminal acts that earned the money in the first place.
For example, an organized crime ring that has made a great deal of money from selling drugs can use an accountant to invest that money in a legitimate business like a car wash or a restaurant. In this way, the illicit money will be made to seem like legitimate capital being used to fund a lawful business enterprise.
In order to convict someone on charges of money laundering, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally and knowingly attempted to conceal the origin or destination of money derived from the criminal acts and that the defendant knew the money was obtained illegally.
The prosecution has a high burden in this regard and a jury trial will create multiple opportunities for a skilled defense team to attack the weaknesses in the Government’s case. An aggressive legal defense in a case like this can take many forms and focus on many different aspects of the prosecution’s arguments.
A few common strategies for a legal defense in money laundering cases:
- No evidence of criminal intent
- Defendant was forced or threatened into committing the crime
- No evidence of hiding money
- No evidence that money was derived from a crime
If the defense attorney can successfully create an argument creating a reasonable doubt based on one or more of the above arguments, the prosecution may not be able to prove their case.
Manafort’s defense team will attempt to file every pre-trial motion it can attacking the case. In the motion to dismiss the defense team argues that elastic language in Rosenstein’s official appointment order gives Mueller a kind of “carte blanche” that Justice Department regulations are supposed to foreclose.
Justice Department lawyers have defended the legality of Mueller’s appointment. In addition, lawyers for DOJ have argued that Manafort has no legal standing to challenge internal Justice Department regulations that essentially allocate work among federal prosecutors.
Rosenstein said in an interview Monday that he is supervising Mueller’s activities.
“The special counsel is not an unguided missile,” Rosenstein told USA Today.
The motions do not affect 18 tax fraud, bank fraud and overseas bank account reporting-related charges Mueller’s team brought against Manafort in federal court in Virginia last month. However, Manafort’s defense team has signaled it plans to file similar challenges there.
“Mr. Manafort … faces a game of procedural whack-a-mole against a Special Counsel whose massive resources he cannot possibly hope to match,” the broad motion to dismiss filed Wednesday said.
Judge T.S. Ellis III has set a July 10 trial date for the Virginia case, putting it on track to go before a jury months before the D.C. charges.
If you are the target of a federal investigation you should hire an attorney with extensive experience representing people in federal or white collar investigations and prosecutions. Nicholas G. Matassini, an AV Rated and board certified criminal trial lawyer with vast federal criminal defense experience, will reach out to the investigating agent and prosecutor to let them know that you are represented, and that all future attempts to communicate with you need to instead be directed to your attorney. Since 1976, The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. has been committed to excellence in federal criminal defense throughout the Tampa Bay area and all federal courts in Florida.