Legal circles in Washington D.C. believe special counsel Robert Mueller will file superseding indictments against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates to “grind” down the defendants, according to a new report from the Daily Beast.
A superseding indictment would replace the current indictment against Manafort, which includes charges related to money laundering, making false statements, and other charges connected to political lobbying he did in Ukraine — none of which are connected to the 2016 election.
Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University’s law school, said he expects the superseding indictment to be filed against Manafort soon.
“There was much in the narrative of the indictment that referenced crimes not charged,” Turley said. “Prosecutors will often issue a superseding indictment as the grand jury continues its work. There’s also a tactical reason for this, that superseding indictments tend to grind defendants a bit more over time.”
The Beast’s report hints that Mueller might be preparing to file charges against Manafort for tax-related crimes since he had money in a foreign bank account and did not “check a box on their tax forms disclosing it.” Citing an unnamed former prosecutor from the Department of Justice, the Beast said Mueller gave Manafort a “speaking indictment” — which intentionally contains more information than necessary.
“It’s a way of dirtying up a defendant without having to actually prove the conduct,” the former prosecutor told the Beast. “I think, in fairness to them, they probably rushed it because they didn’t want to wait for the tax division approval on those tax counts. That, I assume, would be working its way through the system.”
Any time federal prosecutors want to charge someone with breaking tax law, they must get approval from the Justice Department’s Tax Division. That approval process can be time consuming, and the would-be defendant’s attorneys often can petition Tax Division lawyers against authorizing the charges. Following the money, it turns out, can be circuitous.
Martin Sheil, a former supervisory special agent for the IRS’ criminal investigations unit, said that superseding indictments are common in financial investigations because defendants are often resistant to cooperating and because financial investigations can take a long time to complete.
Mueller's investigation has already cost taxpayers more than $6.7 million and has yet to produce a shred of evidence that suggests that Trump's presidential campaign "colluded" with Russian officials.