Mueller wins as judge upholds his authority in Manafort case

16 May, 2018, 11:32 | Author: Carlos George
  • Judge denies ex Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s request to dismiss his federal indictment

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday ruled against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort by saying the investigation of alleged financial fraud falls within the mandate of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia Probe.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Mueller had the right to bring the charges against Manafort, shutting down the argument by Manafort's lawyer that they had nothing to do with the Russian Federation investigation.

She added that it was appropriate for federal investigators to look into Manafort's business connections in Russia and Ukraine while Mueller's office investigated possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Mr Manafort, who performed lobbying work for a pro-Russian former Ukrainian president before serving as Mr Trump's campaign chairman in 2016, is facing two indictments brought by Mr Mueller in federal courts in Washington and Alexandria, Virginia.

"The Special Counsel would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious potential link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government", she wrote later in the opinion.

The decision was a setback for Paul Manafort in his defence against charges of money-laundering conspiracy, false statements and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.

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Judge Jackson previously dismissed a civil case Manafort filed against Mueller, in which Manafort's attorneys argued that the scope of Mueller's investigation was too broad.

He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, none of which are directly related to work he performed for Mr Trump's campaign.

Third, Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had broad authority to "authorize the Special Counsel to investigate not only 'links and/or coordination, ' but also, 'any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.'" So even if the charges against Manafort were not sufficiently tied to Russian Federation, they could still potentially proceed under the remainder of the powers delegated to Mueller.

In addition to the Washington indictment, Manafort also faces charges in Virginia of bank fraud and tax evasion.

That judge, TS Ellis III for the eastern district of Virginia, has yet to rule on whether to dismiss the charges against Mr Manafort. Additionally, Rosenstein "confirmed in writing that he assigned the Special Counsel the specific responsibility to investigate the very allegations that comprise the" challenged indictment. "The regulations do not allow for such an expansive appointment".

Deputy Solicitor General Michael R. Dreeben had defended the investigation, arguing last month in the District that prosecutors would naturally want to scrutinize Manafort's long-standing ties to Russian-backed politicians, financiers and others and whether any served as "back channels to Russia". But Ellis also suggested that if he ruled in Manafort's favor, the case could simply be returned to the USA attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

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