Roger Stone associate held in contempt in Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — An associate of former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone was held in contempt of court today in a fresh attempt to challenge Robert Mueller's appointment as the special counsel investigating Trump campaign contacts with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The move also spotlighted a growing focus by Mueller on Stone. Another of Stone's associates, a New Yorker known as the "Manhattan Madam" because she once operated an upscale escort service, was expected to make her first appearance before a grand jury in the case.

Paul Kamenar, the attorney for Stone associate Andrew Miller, whose refusal to appear before the grand jury today led him to be held in contempt, argued after the proceedings that Mueller's appointment is unconstitutional.

He asserted that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did not have the authority to appoint Mueller to lead the investigation into Trump campaign contacts with Russia.

Previous challenges to Mueller's legitimacy have failed.

President Donald Trump has sought to undermine the investigation by calling it a "witch hunt" and a "hoax." He has repeatedly insisted, "there was no collusion."

Kamenar also said a prosecutor with powers as broad as Mueller's should be treated like a U.S. attorney and be subject to Senate confirmation.

"There's been no authority, we say, that gives the Justice Department the power to appoint Mr. Mueller," Kamenar told reporters outside the courthouse in Washington after Miller was held in contempt for refusing to appear before the grand jury.

Kamenar asserted that Mueller has vastly more authority than any U.S. attorney, including the ability to indict foreign actors and bring cases in more than one jurisdiction.

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