US judge greenlights Paul Manafort case to go forward

Judge denies ex Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s request to dismiss his federal indictment

Special counsel Robert Mueller was working within his authority when he brought charges against President Trump's former campaign chairman, a federal judge in Washington ruled Tuesday.

Mr Rosenstein "expressly approved the special counsel's investigation of the facts alleged in the indictment, so there has been no violation of the regulations, and the special counsel did not act without authority", wrote judge Jackson, who was appointed by Democratic president Barack Obama.

Manafort was indicted in October on charges of financial fraud and violating lobbying disclosure laws by failing to register his past work for the Russia-backed government of Ukraine.

Beyond investigating links between Russian Federation and Trump's campaign, Mueller is also charged with pursuing "any matter that arose or may arise directly" from his collusion probe. Previously Law&Crime speculated that maybe Trump might be waiting to see how the Manafort cases in EDVA and D.C. would shake out before making a decision about speaking to Mueller. Nevertheless, Manafort's claims seemed to take on a new life earlier this month when Judge T.S. Ellis, the judge hearing the remaining charges against Mueller, asked some skeptical questions about Mueller's authority during a recent hearing.

"Given the combination of his prominence within the campaign and his ties to Ukrainian officials supported by and operating out of Russia, as well as to Russian oligarchs, Manafort was an obvious person of interest", the ruling said.

"Manafort complains that the appointment order 'purports to give the special counsel jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute anything else he might discover during the course of the original investigation", Jackson wrote, "but that is not what the order says".

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So the charges in Jackson's courtroom will proceed against Manafort, and they will be prosecuted by Robert Mueller.

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., denied the defense's motion to dismiss some of the charges. Additionally, Rosenstein "confirmed in writing that he assigned the Special Counsel the specific responsibility to investigate the very allegations that comprise the" challenged indictment.

Manafort's attorneys have argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein acted improperly when he appointed Mueller in May 2017 to investigate not only collusion with Russian Federation but any other issues that "may arise" from that investigation.

Jackson said Justice Department regulations allow for a "broad grant of authority".

Jackson's ruling also offered support to the Justice Department regulations that gave rise to Mueller's appointment to lead the Russian Federation investigation. Manafort had argued that Mueller had exceeded his authority because the case was unrelated to Russian election interference. In Virginia, he faces charges that include bank fraud and filing false tax returns. But Ellis also suggested that if he ruled in Manafort's favor, the case could simply be returned to the US attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

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