Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is believed to have served as a “back channel” between the presidential campaign and Russia, a lawyer for Trump’s Department of Justice disclosed Thursday.
According to Bloomberg, U.S. prosecutors made the allegation while defending special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision to indict Manafort on charges of money laundering and acting as an agent of a foreign government.
Manafort’s lawyers argued the charges are outside of Mueller’s mandate, which includes an obligation to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Justice Department lawyer Michael Dreeben told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson that Manafort “had long-standing ties to Russia-backed politicians.”
“Did they provide back channels to Russia?” Dreeben asked. “Investigators will naturally look at those things.”