Mueller Concerned Trump Attacks on Probe, 'Inaccurate' Media Coverage Could Bias a Jury, New Court Filing Shows

Special counsel Robert Mueller may believe the constant bashing of his Russia probe by President Donald Trump and his supporters, as well as extensive media coverage, could affect a possible jury in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to a new court motion filed Thursday.

As the July 25 start date to Manafort's trial approaches, Mueller's team is seeking approval to have prospective jurors fill out a 20-page questionnaire aimed at determining their fitness for a jury. The questionnaire also includes an inquiry about a juror's feelings toward Mueller and his team.

"In this case, the United States is represented by the United States Department of Justice through Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III. Is there anything regarding the Special Counsel's Office that would prevent or hinder you in any way from rendering a fair and impartial verdict in this case based solely on the evidence presented and the Court's instructions on the law?" one of the questions asks.

In the new eight-page filing, Mueller's team claims some of the reporting on the probe "at times, inaccurately, comments on the nature of the evidence collected in the case or activities of the parties."

The special counsel's office declined Newsweek's request for comment.

The filing says a search of newspaper, radio and television coverage of the Manafort investigation and trial resulted in nearly 5,000 hits.

"Furthermore, the amount of publicity about this case is only likely to grow as the trial date approaches," the filing read, "and such publicity increases the possibility that jurors will form biases or pre-formed opinions that my prejudice one or both parties."

The president, as well as his attorney Rudy Giuliani, has steadily increased the scale and number of public attacks against the Mueller probe over the past few months.

On Wednesday alone, Trump used a mistake by ABC News about incorrect charges brought against Manafort as a reason to deride the Russia investigation. The president returned to his nickname for Mueller's team: "13 Angry Democrats."

"Look what Fake ABC News put out. I guess they had it prepared from the 13 Angry Democrats leading the Witch Hunt! #StopTheBias," Trump tweeted.

Look what Fake ABC News put out. I guess they had it prepared from the 13 Angry Democrats leading the Witch Hunt! #StopTheBias pic.twitter.com/c0XOk1btEQ

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2018

Trump also spoke about Manafort's being thrown in jail for alleged witness tampering last Friday, claiming it was a "tough sentence" for the long-time Washington insider and lobbyist.

"Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns. Didn't know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!" the president said.

Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns. Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2018

Republicans have long stood by Trump and his claims of investigative bias and no collusion between his campaign and Russia. But a recent poll indicated that both Democrats and independents have also soured on the Mueller investigation over the past year. The results showed that 24 percent of Democrats had an unfavorable view of Mueller and so did 33 percent of independents. Both percentages were up compared with those from a year ago.