Manafort drops appeal of civil case against Mueller

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jul 30, 2018

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Monday gave up his effort to challenge special counsel Robert Mueller in civil court.

Manafort has withdrawn his appeal of a judge's decision to throw out his civil lawsuit against Mueller, according to court filings.

"It is hereby stipulated and agreed by and between the parties that the (case) be voluntarily dismissed," the new filing said.

Manafort filed the initial lawsuit in January against Mueller, the Justice Department and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel. A federal judge dismissed the case in April, saying that the civil proceedings were "not the appropriate vehicle" for Manafort to try to chip away at Mueller's authority.

In her ruling, federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Manafort to pursue his grievances against Mueller during his criminal proceedings. Manafort then asked the federal appeals court in Washington, DC, to review her decision.

The decision to drop the appeal comes one day before Manafort's criminal trial is scheduled to begin in Virginia federal court. Manafort is accused of financial crimes, including bank fraud and tax evasion, relating to his lobbying work for the government of Ukraine. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Jury selection begins Tuesday.

The unsuccessful civil lawsuit sought, among other things, to prevent Mueller from bringing additional charges in the future, including potential charges relating to Manafort's work on the Trump campaign. Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, including potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. President Donald Trump and Manafort have both said there was no collusion.

Manafort has used similar arguments to challenge his indictments in Virginia and Washington. But federal judges overseeing both cases have upheld Mueller's authority to investigate and prosecute Manafort. One of the judges, T.S. Ellis, said prosecutors rightfully "followed the money paid by pro-Russian officials" to Manafort.

Manafort is also charged in federal court in Washington with undisclosed foreign lobbying and money laundering. He pleaded not guilty to these allegations, and the case is scheduled to go to trial in mid-September.

The judge overseeing that trial, Berman Jackson, revoked Manafort's bail last month and ordered him to await trial from a jail cell. He is appealing that decision, and that appeal was still active as of Monday afternoon.