President Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who was indicted in late October as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation, is suing Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and the Department of Justice, CNBC reports.
Mueller was appointed by Rosenstein last spring to oversee the federal investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and any possible collusion with President Trump's campaign or associates. Manafort stands accused of massive financial crimes, including tax evasion, money laundering, fraud, false statements, and "conspiracy against the United States." Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates, who was also charged, "knowingly and willfully, without registering with the attorney general as required by law, acted as agents of a foreign principal, to wit, the Government of Ukraine, the Party of Regions, and [pro-Moscow Ukrainian politician Viktor] Yanukovych," the Mueller indictment alleges. Manafort has pleaded not guilty.
Manafort's lawsuit challenges the legality of the appointment of Mueller by Rosenstein and the Justice Department and singles out "the conduct of Mr. Mueller as beyond his jurisdiction under the appointment order. The actions of the Special Counsel are reviewable under the Declaratory Judgment Act and under the long-recognized authority of the federal courts to grant equitable relief to prevent injurious acts by public officers."
The charge against Manafort that is nearest to the stated scope of Russia investigation is that Manafort acted as an "unregistered agent of a foreign principal," although Rosenstein's order also states that Mueller is allowed to investigate "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation." That clause, Manafort's lawyers argue, improperly gives Mueller "carte blanche to investigate and pursue criminal charges in connection with anything he stumbles across while investigating, no matter how remote from the specific matter identified as the subject of the appointment order." Jeva Lange
John Oliver kicked off Sunday's Last Week Tonight with a brief look at President Trump's White House, "rated No. 1 place to work by Subpoena Magazine. Now, this week it seemed almost everyone in the White House was about to get fired," he said, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson actually was, apparently in a particularly humiliating way — on the john, with a stomach bug. "Come on, Rex, deep down, when you took this job, you knew it would end like this," Oliver said.
Still, "instead of getting sucked down a White House rabbit hole yet again this week, let's instead focus on Russia," Oliver said, starting with the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. "Basically every country agrees that Russia did this, which is incredible — we can't even get the world to agree on a single shape for electrical outlets," Oliver said. "And frankly, the Russian government hasn't really gone out of its way to not look suspicious," up to and including President Vladimir Putin.
Russia also held presidential elections on Sunday, and "the winner was the poison guy," Oliver said. "Putin's win isn't really much of a surprise, given that three potential candidates who might have had the best chance against him didn't even make it onto the ballot." Putin actually bothered to campaign a little bit this time, and he had help from, among other people, a girl group that recorded a song fantasizing about marrying Putin. "What young woman wouldn't want to settle down with a joyless 65-year-old whose ex-wife once said of him, 'Unfortunately, he is a vampire'?" Oliver asked His favorite propaganda campaign, however, involved children drawing pictures of Putin, and after showing some examples, he wrapped up. "What today's result means is that everything Putin is famous for — oppression, threats, and meddling in elections — will likely continue for the foreseeable future." Watch below (there is NSFW language). Peter Weber
Florida State knocked No. 1 seed Xavier out of the NCAA men's basketball tournament on Sunday night, taking the lead for the first time with 1:08 left in the game then holding on for a 75-70 finish. Following the shocking elimination of overall top seed Virginia by University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), only two No. 1 seeds are advancing to the Sweet 16 round for the first time since 2004. (UMBC's underdog run was ended by ninth-seeded Kansas on Sunday, 50-43.) The NCAA says it is the first time in tournament history that any region — in this case the South — isn't sending any of its top four seeds to the Sweet 16.
In the East Region, No. 5 seed West Virginia will face Villanova, after the Mountaineers beat Marshall on Sunday night, and second-seeded Purdue will battle No. 3 seed Texas Tech. In the West, third-seeded Michigan will face Texas A&M, a seventh-seeded team that knocked out defending champions North Carolina on Sunday, and No. 4 seed Gonzaga will face Florida State. In the Midwest, No. 1 seed Kansas will play fifth-seeded Clemson and No. 2 seed Duke will face No. 11 seed Syracuse. In the South Region, No. 5 seed Kentucky will take on No. 9 seed Kansas State and seventh-seeded Nevada will battle No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago. If you bracket isn't already busted, congratulations. Peter Weber
In September 2016, two counselors and a resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School recommended that Nikolas Cruz be involuntarily committed for a mental health evaluation, per court documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Cruz, 19, stands accused of killing 17 people in a mass shooting at the Parkland, Florida, high school last month. Under Florida's Baker Act, a person can be forcibly committed for a mental health exam for at least three days, and it's not clear why no one ever followed through on the recommendation. The resource officer who proposed Cruz be committed was Scot Peterson; he resigned after the shooting when it emerged that he did not enter the building during the massacre. Had Cruz been committed, authorities told AP, it would have been a red flag during a background check, making it extremely difficult for him to get a gun legally.
The court documents state that Cruz told a classmate he wanted to purchase a gun and use it; told another student he tried drinking gasoline and was throwing up; and wrote "kill" in a notebook. He also cut his arm several times after he and a girlfriend broke up and punched a hole in a wall at his house, the documents say, but told clinicians with Henderson Behavioral Health that he was feeling better. Cruz admitted that he had a pellet gun, but said he was not capable of doing "serious harm" with it, AP reports. Catherine Garcia
While walking home from the subway last Thursday, firefighter Roben Duge saw black smoke billowing from his neighbor's two-story house, and although he was off-duty and didn't have his gear on him, Duge ran into the flames to save a family.
"I'm not a hero, I'm just reacting off instinct," the father of three told the New York Daily News. "When I heard the kids screaming, it hit home." Duge, a resident of Jamaica, Queens, has been with the FDNY for five years, and was able to get a grandmother and her two grandchildren out of the building safely. He brought the trio over to his house, and they were treated by paramedics.
His neighbors praised him for his bravery, but Duge's wife, Crystal, wasn't surprised by his act of heroism. "It's just who he is," she said. "He's Superman." Catherine Garcia
On Sunday night, an explosion of some kind injured two men in their 20s in southwest Austin, according to Austin-Travis County Emergency Management Services. In a short press briefing, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said it is not yet clear if the explosion is related to the three package bombs that killed two people and injuring another on March 2 and March 12 in eastern and northern Austin. The two people injured on Sunday night suffered "significant" but apparently "non-life-threatening" injuries, he added, and police and FBI agents are working to "clear" a suspicious backpack from the area. Manley urged residents within a half-mile of the blast to remain indoors until at least morning.
"Do not touch any packages or anything that looks like a package — do not even go near it at this time," Manley told residents. "Given the darkness we have not had an opportunity to really look at this blast site to determine what has happened." Earlier Sunday, Manley raised the reward for information leading to the arrest of the bomber to $115,000 from $50,000. He said investigators haven't ruled out any motive and don't yet have any clear idea of "what the ideology is behind this."
Update 2:55 ET: Manley said in a second press briefing early Monday that the explosion, believed to be some sort of bomb, may have been set off by a tripwire. The victims were riding or pushing bikes. He said police are waiting until daylight to examine the blast scene. "We are working under the belief that this is related to the other bombing incidents" in March, Manley said, and a chemical analysis of the explosion will probably provide the conclusive evidence. Peter Weber
A Cirque du Soleil aerialist died Saturday after he fell 20 feet during a performance of the show Volta in Tampa, the company announced Sunday.
Yann Arnaud, 38, of France later died at the hospital. A husband and father of two, Arnaud had been performing with Cirque du Soleil for 15 years and was one of the most experienced members. Daniel Lamarre, president and chief executive of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, told Reuters he was "very surprised" by Arnaud's death, and he couldn't describe how badly everyone at Cirque du Soleil felt. "It's terrible," he said.
Authorities said Arnaud was performing an aerial strap act on the double rings, and he fell after one of his hands slipped. In the 34-year history of the company, this is the third death of a Cirque performer. The incident is now under investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Catherine Garcia
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), undergoing cancer treatment in Arizona, has been unable to appear on the Sunday news shows, but he still joined a thin chorus of Republicans on Sunday to defend Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with President Trump's campaign. Over the weekend, Trump lashed out at Mueller by name on Twitter for the first time, raising concerns that he would fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a prelude to ordering Mueller's ouster.
Special Counsel Mueller has served our country with honesty and integrity. It’s critical he be allowed to complete a thorough investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — unimpeded.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) March 18, 2018
Trump's error-filled tweets prompted several top Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, to urge Congress to pass stalled bipartisan legislation to shield Mueller from political interference and Trump's wrath. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his top deputies have not commented on Trump attacking Mueller, and House Speaker Paul Ryan said through his spokeswoman simply that "Mueller and his team should be able to do their job."
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) all voiced support for Mueller on Sunday, as did Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), but the GOP leaders of the House and Senate intelligence and judiciary committees have remained silent. One Trump lawyer, John Dowd, urged an end to the Mueller investigation on Saturday, but a second lawyer, Ty Cobb, said late Sunday that Trump "is not considering or discussing the firing of the special counsel, Robert Mueller." Trump can't fire Mueller directly, and the man who can (for cause), Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said last week that Mueller "is not an unguided missile" and "I don't believe there is any justification at this point for terminating the special counsel." Peter Weber