Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort accused a prominent member of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of leaking details of the investigation into the political operative to a media organization.
Manafort says in a new filing that lead special counsel prosecutor Andrew Weissmann communicated with four journalists from The Associated Press last year to share details of the investigation into Manafort, who at that time had not been indicted. Manafort rests his accusation in the court filing on the writings of freelance journalist Sara Carter.
Manafort, who maintains his innocence, claimed the AP briefing – which he says happened around the time the international news agency published stories about payments to him in the so-called “black ledger” and his associations with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska – was an illegal leak of grand jury secrets and classified material. Manafort alleged the leaks deprived him of his right to a fair trial.
“It is the long-standing policy of The Associated Press to refrain from discussing our sources,” a spokesperson for The Associated Press said Monday.
Manafort also asked the court to look into leaks coming from the special counsel’s team. The White House has similarly called for an investigation of Mueller’s team due to what President Donald Trump calls conflicts of interest among investigators on the team.
Manafort accused officials of leaking details about the Russia probe and the Steele dossier regarding Trump campaign workers’ contacts with Russians.
“Not only is leaking classified information a felony, but it was also apparently intended to create the false public narrative that Mr. Manafort was colluding with Russian intelligence officials during the Trump presidential campaign,” Manafort wrote in the court filing Monday night.
“In light of the mass media coverage of these leaks in print, on television, radio and the internet, it seems unlikely that there is a jury questionnaire, instruction or change of venue that could cure the irreparable harm to Mr. Manafort’s constitutional rights resulting from leaks by the highest-level government officials.”
The judge is set to hold a hearing on Manafort’s case in June, but hasn’t yet indicated if he’ll address the leak accusations.
The special counsel’s office has said in the past that Manafort’s accusations of leaks don’t actually involve any protected grand jury activity. The prosecutors add that any bias in a jury can be rooted out at trial during jury selection.
The special counsel’s office, for which Weissmann now leads the prosecution against Manafort, did not respond to a request for comment Monday but has addressed Manafort’s request that the court look into leaks in a previous filing.