Judge upholds Mueller's authority to prosecute former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort

Breaking Federal judge just ruled on Paul Manafort’s motion to dismiss Mueller charges

Judge upholds Mueller's authority to prosecute former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort

A federal judge in Washington refused to toss Paul Manafort's criminal case Tuesday, saying his indictment "falls squarely" within special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's authority to investigate ties between the Russian Federation government and President Trump's 2016 campaign.

"First, the indictment falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel that Manafort finds unobjectionable: the order to investigate 'any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign, '" she continued.

"Manafort's civil case will be dismissed", United States District Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote in the order.

A federal judge has asked skeptical questions about special counsel Robert Mueller's authority to bring charges against former Manafort and suggested prosecutors' true motive is getting Manafort to "sing" against the president.

He has also argued that Mueller's case against him has nothing to do with Russian interference in 2016 election, and that the probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into his Ukraine dealings predates the Russia probe.

In her 37-page ruling, Jackson went through a point-by-point rejection of Manafort's other arguments, including his contention that Mueller had been given a "blank check" to investigate anything "he may stumble across".

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

The decision was a setback for Paul Manafort in his defense against charges of money-laundering conspiracy, false statements and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. His trial is scheduled to start September 17.

She cited an August 2017 memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that prosecutors had filed in the case.

Additionally, Jackson said that the Justice Department regulations created for special counsel investigations are not enforceable for defendants in court.

Jackson, in her Tuesday memorandum opinion, appeared to push back on Ellis' skepticism of the special counsel's broad mandate, arguing that Rosenstein granted Mueller the power to investigate "any matters that arose" from his immediate probe of Russian meddling.

"It bears emphasizing at this stage that Manafort is presumed to be innocent of these charges", she said, "But the indictment will not be dismissed, and the matter will proceed to trial". His lawyers filed for a dismissal on the basis that the charges extended beyond the scope of Mueller's appointment.

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