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Special counsel Mueller had authority to prosecute Manafort, federal judge rules
16 May 2018, 07:05 | Devin Moran
Blow Paul Manafort was told his attempt to get the case in Washington D.C. dismissed had failed in a 37-page ruling
Special counselRobert Mueller was working within his authority when he brought charges against President Trump's former campaign chairman, a federal judge in Washington ruled Tuesday. 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.
Jackson said the Manafort prosecution falls squarely within the mandate of Mueller, whose May 2017 appointment order directs him to investigate links or coordination between Russian Federation and people associated with Trump's campaign.
Judge Jackson was not moved by any of Mr Manafort's assertions.
"He was appointed to take over an existing investigation, and it appears from the chronology and the written record that the matters contained in the Superseding Indictment were already a part of the ongoing inquiry that was lawfully transferred to the Special Counsel by the Department of Justice in May of 2017", she said.
Jackson had previously thrown out a civil case Manafort brought challenging Mueller's authority. Jackson said that even if the Manafort case didn't arise from links to Russian Federation, and instead was a matter that arose from that investigation, the indictment should stand.
Later in the opinion, the judge clearly says that it was squarely within Mueller's scope to pursue Manafort's links to Russian Federation.
"It was logical and appropriate for investigators tasked with the investigation of "any links" between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign to direct their attention to him", Jackson wrote.
I don't see what relation this indictment has with what the special counsel is authorized to investigate. "The regulations do not allow for such an expansive appointment". Additionally, Rosenstein "confirmed in writing that he assigned the Special Counsel the specific responsibility to investigate the very allegations that comprise the" challenged indictment.
"It bears emphasizing at this stage that Manafort is presumed to be innocent of these charges", Jackson said.
Manafort also faces a separate set of bank fraud and other financial charges in Virginia. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III has yet to rule on it. Ellis previously had grilled Mueller's team on whether the case was within his mandate and questioned whether they brought the case to get Manafort to testify against Trump.
Although Trump's new attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested the delay had more to do with the leak of Mueller's potential questions for Trump, the Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on Michael Cohen's office and Trump's upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore, there was still a reason to pay close attention to Manafort.
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