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

Elias Hubbard
May 16, 2018

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has the authority to prosecute Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Trump's presidential campaign.

Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, faces an array of criminal charges in two different federal courts, including money laundering charges and allegations that he worked as an unregistered agent for the Ukrainian government. The charges against Manafort relate to his decade of work as a political consultant to Ukrainian politicians.

Citing Manafort's years of work in Ukraine, his prominent role on the Trump campaign and his publicized connections to Russian figures, Jackson said it was "logical and appropriate" for Mueller's team to scrutinize Manafort as part of their investigation into Russian election meddling and possible coordination with Trump associates.

"Manafort's speculative claim of improper conduct falls far short of the showing necessary to warrant a hearing on potential violations of [a grand jury secrecy rule] or of his constitutional rights", prosecutors wrote.

In a sharp rebuke of those claims, judge Amy Berman Jackson of U.S. district court for the District of Columbia ruled that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had followed all the justice department's rules when he hired Mr Mueller and the case against Mr Manafort is not overly broad or improper.

Second, even if Mueller had exceeded his authority, the regulations governing appointments of special counsel provide that they "are not meant to, do not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity, by any person or entity, in any matter, civil, criminal, or administrative". A spokesman for the Special Counsel declined to comment.

None of the charges against Manafort involve crimes related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

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.

Jackson said the case against Manafort should proceed even if scrutiny of his past activity came about not from the investigation of "links" to Russian but rather as a "matter that arose" from that probe.

Jackson said Justice Department regulations allow for a "broad grant of authority". Manafort is also facing charges of bank fraud in Virginia. His lawyers filed for a dismissal on the basis that the charges extended beyond the scope of Mueller's appointment.

The fact that Ellis asked such questions does not mean that he will rule in Manafort's favor.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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