Right in the middle of Wednesday’s bombshell reports about Donald Trump and Steve Bannon tearing each other apart over the contents of a new tell-all book, one of the key players in the whole Trump/Russia/conspiracy mess, Paul Manafort, dropped a bomb of his own.
Manafort, the former manager of Trump’s presidential campaign, was hit with a high-profile indictment back in October by Robert Mueller’s special counsel following an early morning no-knock raid at his home that turned up evidence Mueller used to secure the charges. Manafort was one of two former Trump employees charged that day, and it has been widely assumed until today that he cut some sort of plea deal with Mueller in order to avoid prison time.
Clearly, that deal never existed, because Manafort filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in federal court against Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and the entire Department of Justice for what he thinks is the special counsel extending beyond its mandate to bring charges against him.
Manafort and Mueller have already been tussling over the terms of his house arrest, so a frivolous lawsuit is presumably just what Mueller needs to decide that he will never cut a deal with the Russian-linked former lobbyist and Trump sycophant.
The suit has approximately zero chance of succeeding, and Manafort knows it. His primary complaint is that Mueller’s investigation extended back many years to well before he was involved in any way with Donald Trump — an argument that has no merit, since his activities before joining the Trump campaign are being investigated as the very reason Trump hired him in the first place.
Most importantly, Manafort never filed a claim to dismiss the charges against him in the special counsel indictment. He went directly to a lawsuit against them, indicating that he has no credible defense against the charges — he just doesn’t like that they were filed. It also exposes the suit as a PR stunt by his legal team, likely in collaboration with Trump’s own legal team.
It could be costly for his lawyers, as well. The penalties for filing a frivolous lawsuit can be pretty steep, and this could be the highest-profile stunt lawsuit so far in the entire investigation.
Featured image via Alex Wong/Getty Images