“It’s a messy legal situation,” said Margaret Love, who served under President George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
The DOJ in a federal court statement on Friday admitted that Trump’s December 23 pardon for Manafort was an intricate court case in which a Chicago bank and a secret Nevada corporation question government efforts at three houses worth of millions of dollars for sale owned by Manafort or related companies.
“The Manafort pardon raises legal and political issues and a judicial review that the United States must consider,” said government lawyers wrote in a submission.
“Given the limited jurisdiction over the effects of a pardon on ancillary proceedings under the modern foreclosure framework, the United States is seeking additional time for review and coordination across the Department of Justice,” added DOJ lawyers another template.
As of 2018, attorneys at the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago and Nevada-based Woodlawn LLC have been filing court orders to protect their financial interests in mortgages on Manafort real estate.
The Justice Department has not definitively objected to these requests, but has stated that the company and the bank will need to provide further information before their claims can be processed. DOJ lawyers said the bank that loaned Manafort $ 16 million may have known or should have known about Manafort’s illegal activities.
Prosecutors have ruled the circumstances of the $ 1 million Woodlawn loan granted by an unidentified California man two months prior to Manafort’s indictment.
In a new judicial filing On Sunday, the bank’s lawyers told U.S. District Court judge Amy Berman Jackson that Trump’s pardon for Manafort means that forfeitures should cease immediately so the bank can finalize its loan.
“It is the Horn Book Act that a pardon has all penalties, including forfeiture imposed by a criminal conviction,” wrote Seetha Ramachandran of the Proskauer Rose law firm. “It is amazing that the government is opposing this well-established proposal and asking this court for 44 days to deal with it – in addition to the over three years it has had to consider … the effect of a pardon.”
Manafort had served nearly two years of his seven and a half year prison sentence before being released on house arrest in May during a wave of early releases related to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump’s pardon wiped out the rest of Manafort’s verdict and the legal impact of his 2018 convictions on charges, including filing false tax returns, failing to report offshore bank accounts, bank fraud, failing to register as a foreign agent, money laundering and witness manipulation.
The president Grant of grace He also specifically stated that he would void the $ 11 million in forfeiture and more than $ 31 million in restitution ordered in connection with Manafort’s convictions.
That language sparked speculation that Manafort might try to unwind the part of his plea that asked him to forfeit five properties as well as other assets.
However, the senior prosecutor on the Manafort cases said last month that the language in Manafort’s plea was designed to survive a possible Trump pardon.
“We anticipated a pardon, so Manafort has expressly consented to the civil forfeiture and given up any interest in the forfeited property,” said former prosecutor Andrew Weissmann in an email.
“The loss was asserted both criminally and civilly because we feared that if President Paul Manafort forgave the criminal loss, the pardon would eliminate the criminal loss, but not a civil loss,” Weissmann added to CNN.
Now the bank’s lawyers are trying to use the words of former Deputy Special Counsel Robert Mueller to hasten the dispute to a resolution.
“The government had every reason to believe that such a pardon was imminent and that its effects should have been considered long ago, and it is clear,” wrote Ramachandran, referring to Weissmann’s CNN appearance and similar comments on twitter. “This case is clearly over.”
In one of their filings filed on Friday, DOJ attorneys signaled that they were considering switching gears to attempt to seize the properties through a civil foreclosure process rather than the one that emerged from the criminal proceedings against Manafort.
Justice Department attorneys asked the judge to give the government time to “determine if there are any other ways in which it could lose these properties.” The government filings also relate to political considerations, which could be an allusion to the fact that the DOJ will receive new leadership from the Biden administration from just over a week away.
The resolution of the Chicago Bank’s claim faced a key stumbling block: In May 2019, the bank’s founder, Stephen Calk, was charged with illegally planning to hold posts in the Trump transition and administration by working on Federal government urged -approved bank approves $ 16 million loan to Manafort.
In a wish list sent to Manafort, Calk expressed an interest in serving as Secretary of Defense, Trade Secretary, or Treasury Secretary, as well as other jobs. He was appointed to a campaign economic advisory body but never received an administrative post or nomination.
Jackson delayed the forfeiture proceedings until after Calk’s trial, due to open February 16 in New York. However, the case faces a number of coronavirus-related hurdles. Four Illinois-based witnesses from the bank have asked to be excused from the trip to New York or to testify via video.
“There is no reason for me to postpone the process and I have no intention of doing so,” Judge Lorna Schofield said during a telephone hearing Thursday. However, Calk’s attorneys have objected to key witnesses who testify via video. Schofield has signaled that it could potentially override these objections, but prosecutors have warned that doing so could jeopardize Calk’s constitutional rights.
One thing that could stop Chalk’s trial: a decision by Trump during his dwindling days in office to apologize to the Manafort employee.
It is unclear if there is a scenario in which Manafort gets back the money and property that he agreed to lose in 2018. It seems clear that properties that have already been sold can neither be legally returned to him nor bank accounts permanently confiscated.
“If you don’t have it in your hand or at the Treasury Department, the pardon goes away,” Love said.
If the bank waited in the wings, even if Manafort got property back, he would likely lose it in foreclosure. But Love said the bank had a decent claim that the Justice Department must pull out of the as-yet-closed faults.
“It seems to me that there is at least one argument that what the government has right now is just a piece of paper that says you own it [some property]Maybe they don’t have anything, ”she said.