As part of his request that a federal judge in Virginia hold a hearing on alleged leaks to the media from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, Paul Manafort is pointing to a meeting that Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann allegedly had with Associated Press reporters in April 2017, before the special counsel was appointed.
Weissmann, then the head of the DOJ Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, met with four AP reporters on April 11, according to the court filing by Manafort Monday evening. A day later, the AP published its bombshell report that $1.2 million in payments listed for Manafort in a notorious black ledger found in Ukraine had made it to his U.S. consulting firm.
“[I]t has been reported that a complaint was made to the Justice Department by the FBI with respect to the meeting with the AP reporters, which suggests that normal procedures were not followed in this case,” Manafort’s court filing said. “The thrust of this motion requests that the Court hold a hearing on these unauthorized government leaks, and if there has been an internal investigation (or investigations) regarding such leaks, or if emails, notes or memoranda exist regarding the same, the Court and the defendant—whose Constitutional rights are actually at issue—are entitled to review the same.”
Manafort’s claims are based on a report by Fox News contributor Sara Carter on her personal website, as well as a Washington Times report that House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) had inquired with the Justice Department about the alleged meeting.
A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment. A previous filing by Mueller’s team called Manafort’s allegations “speculative” and said that a pretrial hearing on the issue would be “unwarranted.”
Manafort has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Virginia with bank fraud, tax fraud, and failure to file a foreign bank report. He has pleaded not guilty in that case, as well as in the separate case brought against him in Washington, D.C., where the charges include money laundering and a failure to disclose foreign lobbying.
The charges mostly stem from lobbying work Manafort did in Ukraine, before he joined President Trump’s 2016 campaign, where he served for several months as campaign chair. Manafort, in his request for a hearing on the leaks, has argued that the alleged leaks improperly influenced the grand juries that handed down indictments against him.
“Not only is leaking classified information a felony, but it was also apparently intended to create the false public narrative that Mr. Manafort was colluding with Russian intelligence officials during the Trump presidential campaign. This smear campaign may have in fact irreparably prejudiced the jury pool in violation of the defendant’s Constitutional rights,” he said.
Read the filing below: