Mueller Seeks to Bar `Vindictive' Defense at Manafort Trial

(Bloomberg) -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller asked a judge to bar Paul Manafort from arguing at his upcoming criminal trial that the government’s investigation into his business activities was selective or vindictive.

Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman should also be blocked from speculating about Mueller’s motive or saying the Justice Department probed the same activity in 2014 “and simply chose not to pursue it,” the U.S. said in a filing Friday in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

“The boundaries of the special counsel’s authority are irrelevant to the jury’s consideration of whether the evidence proves the elements of the tax, foreign account, and bank fraud offenses,” the U.S. said in the filing. Such arguments by Manafort risk “misleading or confusing the jury.”

Manafort’s scheduled to go on trial in Virginia July 25, while a related Washington trial is set for Sept. 17. The Washington judge on Friday rejected Manafort’s request to dismiss a money-laundering charge. His bail was revoked June 15 after prosecutors claimed he tried to tamper with witnesses and was sent to a jail in Warsaw, Virginia.

In a filing Thursday in the Virginia case, prosecutors said they want to ask potential jurors about their views of Mueller as well as the Internal Revenue Service. The government submitted a 20-page written questionnaire for potential jurors that prosecutors say is necessary to ensure an impartial panel is chosen in light of the “significant public attention” Mueller’s probe has attracted.

On Friday, prosecutors also submitted a 122-page filing on proposed jury instructions for the trial.

Manafort said in a filing that he didn’t object to the government’s proposed questionnaire or jury instructions.

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