International man of mystery and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein today, the New York Times reports.
In 2017, Manafort and longtime associate Rick Gates were charged with 12 counts of money laundering, failing to register as foreign agents, tax fraud, and conspiracy against the US, as part of Mueller’s Russia’s probe. Manafort has plead not guilty.
In the civil suit, Manafort claims that Mueller overstepped his authority, and his investigation went outside the scope of unearthing any “links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” by delving further into “any matters that arose or may arise directly from" the investigation.
The lawsuit is a surprising move. As former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti tweeted earlier today, Manafort "has almost no chance of success” and that his suit is “pointless.” The relative futility of the endeavor has lead some to believe that this is a PR move to undermine Mueller’s legitimacy.
4/ This suit has almost no chance of success. Even if it succeeded, another federal prosecutor could indict Manafort for the same crimes, so it’s a pointless suit. He’s counting on the public (or conservative allies) to take this publicity stunt seriously. Don’t. /end— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) January 3, 2018
Manafort does have quite the, shall we say, intriguing past. He resigned from the Trump campaign in August, just days before The New York Times reported he had earned some $12.7 million consulting the Ukranian, pro-Russia Party of Regions between 2007 and 2012. Manafort has also been associated with at least 15 different bank accounts, three U.S. passports, and at least one phone registered to a fake name.