Brief: Mueller admits failure in finding evidence Manafort communicated with Russian officials

by WorldTribune Staff, May 4, 2018

Special counsel Robert Mueller has disclosed he lacks any evidence that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort communicated with Russian government officials, a defense attorney for Manafort said in a brief filed in federal court.

The brief by Paul Manafort’s defense attorney ‘punches a big hole in dossier conspiracies being investigated by the FBI and Congress.’

“The special counsel has not produced any materials to the defense – no tapes, notes, transcripts or any other material evidencing surveillance or intercepts of communications between Mr. Manafort and Russian intelligence officials, Russian government officials [or any other foreign officials],” defense attorney Kevin Downing said. “The Office of Special Counsel has advised that there are no materials responsive to Mr. Manafort’s request.”

“If the attorney is accurate, it delivers another credibility blow to the Democratic Party-financed dossier, which accuses Mr. Manafort of orchestrating Trump-Russia collusion,” Rowan Scarborough noted in a May 3 report for The Washington Times.

Downing filed the brief on April 30 in Mueller’s money-laundering case against Manafort.

Downing said he has asked Mueller’s prosecutors multiple times under mandatory discovery rules for any information showing any communication between Manafort and Russian officials during the campaign season.

Mueller’s charges against Manafort are confined to millions of dollars he earned as a political consultant for Ukrainian politicians.

“The Ukraine criminal case, to date in public court filings, has nothing to do with alleged Trump-Russia coordination,” Scarborough wrote. “But Mr. Downing’s brief to a federal judge is relevant to the Mueller Russia investigation because it punches a big hole in dossier conspiracies being investigated by the FBI and Congress.”

Downing said that government-sourced news stories saying Manafort communicated with Russians during the campaign were an “elaborate hoax.”

In the unverified dossier, Christopher Steele wrote, “speaking in confidence to a compatriot in late July 2016, Source B, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, admitted that there was a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them and the Russian leadership. This was managed on the TRUMP side by the Republican candidates campaign manager, Paul MANAFORT, who was using foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE, and others as intermediaries.”

Scaroborugh noted that “The fact that the special counsel, according to Mr. Downing, says he has no evidence of communications creates questions for other Trump-Russia reporting.”

In a major story promoting the collusion angle, The New York Times in February 2017 ran an article that said the U.S. government had complied a large amount of communication intercepts and phone records between Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence. “On its face, the story meant there was collusion,” Scarborough wrote.

That June, former FBI director James Comey, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the Times story was almost completely wrong and there were no such records.

“Then there is the issue of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mr. Mueller and later gave him the parameters for investigating Mr. Manafort,” Scarborough wrote. “One justification was the Ukrainian money. The other was allegations of Manafort-Russia coordination to interfere in the 2016 election.”

The Rosenstein memo “did not provide the source for that allegation. The only public allegation of such coordination is found in the Steele dossier posted online by BuzzFeed on Jan. 10, 2017.” Scarborough noted.

In his brief, Downing cited the February 2017 New York Times story, which helped the Times win the George Polk Award in Journalism for its Russia coverage.

“If the representations of the special counsel are accurate and there is not, in fact, any evidence of communications between Mr. Manafort and foreign officials, then the perpetrators of this elaborate hoax must be identified and punished and the substantial unfair prejudice to Mr. Manafort must be remedied,” Downing wrote.

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