Mueller braces for challenges to his authority

Politico reports: Robert Mueller is on an early winning streak.

Stacked with some of the country’s premier prosecutors, the special counsel has beaten back a pair of preliminary attempts to block his subpoena power and limit who he can question as a potential witness. In July, Mueller’s team also managed to win approval to execute a no-knock search warrant—unusual in a white-collar case.

But as the criminal case against former Donald Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates speeds toward a possible spring 2018 trial, Mueller’s team is bracing for an array of challenges to its authority.

The battle lines are already taking shape.

Kevin Downing, Manafort’s lead attorney, submitted a document Friday indicating that he anticipates filing pre-trial motions that question “the legal basis for and sufficiency of the charges, the suppression of evidence improperly obtained by search warrant, subpoena or otherwise.” Downing also said he may try to prevent Mueller’s prosecutors from presenting some of their evidence during the criminal trial.

Mueller’s team responded to the court Friday with a brief note saying they would need three weeks to present their case, side stepping what will be an intense round of legal jockeying and attempts to undermine the way the special counsel has conducted its investigation.

“’Distort, detract, deny’ is a common playbook for defense lawyers,” said Julie Myers Wood, a former Whitewater prosecutor. “And if the allegations are serious here, I wouldn’t expect the lawyers to sit back or withhold any tool in a quest to undermine the perception of Mueller’s legitimacy.” [Continue reading…]

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