Law & the Courts

Manafort Will Ask Judge to Suppress Evidence Seized by FBI

President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for a motions hearing regarding evidence in his case at U.S. District Court in Washington, May 23, 2018. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is expected to ask a federal judge to suppress evidence seized by FBI agents on behalf of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, alleging that the agents violated the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable search and seizure.

At a Wednesday hearing in Washington — the latest in a series of appearances related to a host criminal charges against Manafort — defense attorneys are expected to claim that the FBI violated the longtime Republican operative’s rights by conducting a warrantless search of a storage locker containing documents related to his consulting business, according to Reuters.

The defense team is also expected to contest the legality of the FBI raid on Manafort’s home on the basis that agents search, which resulted in the seizure of “every electronic and media device” at the home, was overly broad. Last week, Manafort’s attorneys unsuccessfully petitioned for the court to drop the charges against him, which include money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, and conspiracy to defraud the U.S.

Mueller’s office has defended the raid on the storage locker, arguing that a warrant was unnecessary because it had received written permission from the property owner before conducting the search; it similarly disputes that that raid on Manafort’s home was sufficiently broad to violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unlawful search and seizure.

Manafort is currently under indictment for bank fraud and filing false tax returns in a second case brought in Virginia. Both indictments emerged from Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Motions to have the charges dismissed are currently pending in both cases.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, who is presiding over the tax- and bank-fraud charges, appeared sympathetic last month to Manafort’s argument that Mueller exceeded his authority in bringing charges unrelated to the election. He demanded an unredacted copy of the memo detailing the scope of the Mueller probe from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Mueller’s office complied last week.

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