- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed court papers late Monday that showed he was authorized to investigate an allegation against Paul Manafort that is found in the infamous anti-Trump dossier.

Mr. Mueller’s filing disclosed for the first time a written authorization to investigate Mr. Manafort from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Mr. Rosenstein cites unsourced “allegations” against Mr. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manger, that he “committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election….”

The memo is dated August 2, 2017, and refers to the collusion allegations in place as of May 2017, when Mr. Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller.

At that time, May 2017, there was only one public collusion allegation against Mr. Manafort. It was contained in the dossier complied by Christopher Steele, an ex-British spy, who was paid by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign through the investigative firm Fusion GPS.

Relying on unnamed Kremlin sources, Mr. Steele made sweeping collusion charges against President Trump and his aides. None to this day has been confirmed publicly.

Mr. Steele alleged that Mr. Manafort coordinated the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computers in a conspiracy with former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.

Mr. Page has denied the charge repeatedly under oath, saying he has never met or spoke with Mr. Manafort.

Likewise, Mr. Manafort has denied the charge after BuzzFeed posted the 35-page dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.

Mr. Mueller has brought fraud and tax evasion charges against Mr. Manafort stemming from his consultancy work in Ukraine for a pro-Kremlin political figure Viktor Yanukovych.

The indictment alleges Mr. Manafort committed a fraud against the United States by failing to report millions of dollars on his tax returns and failing to register as foreign agent with the Justice Department.

Kevin Downing, Mr. Manafort’s defense counsel, has filed a motion in U.S. District Court to dismiss the charges. He argues Mr. Mueller exceeded his authority by reviving a Ukraine investigation that lay dormant at Justice for three years.

Mr. Downing said it violated Mr. Rosenstein’s May 2017 authorization. It said Mr. Mueller may investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” into Russia-Trump coordination.

Mr. Mueller responded with Monday’s filing which included the memo that shows Mr. Rosenstein authorized both the collusion and Ukraine investigations.

In a filing opposed to Mr. Downing’s motion to dismiss, Mr. Mueller said he had a right to investigate Mr. Manafort’s ties to Russians to determine if there was election collusion.

Mr. Manafort has pleaded not guilty and has not been charged in the Russia probe. Whether any witness, in addition to the dossier, has accused him of collusion has not surfaced in public.

Mr. Steele’s dossier entry on Mr. Manafort said:

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 candidate’s campaign manager, Paul MANAFORT, who was using foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE, and others as intermediaries.”

Mr. Manafort issued a statement in March 2017:

“I had no role or involvement in the cyberattack on the DNC or the subsequent release of information gained from the attack, and I have never spoken with any Russian Government officials or anyone who claimed to have been involved in the attack. The suggestion that I ever worked in concert with anyone to release hacked emails or sought to undermine the interests of the United States is false. Despite the constant scrutiny and innuendo, there are no facts or evidence supporting these allegations, nor will there be. I am disappointed that anyone would give credence to allegations made by individuals with clear political motives in a blatant attempt to discredit me and the legitimacy of the election of President Trump.”

Republicans have derided Mr. Steele’s Democratic-financed dossier as a work of fiction. They have chastised the Justice Department and FBI for relying on it to obtained at least one court-approved wiretap and to frame the over all investigation.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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