Judge Upholds Mueller's Authority To Prosecute Manafort For Ukraine Dealings

Judge Upholds Mueller's Authority To Prosecute Manafort For Ukraine Dealings

A Washington federal judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss the criminal charges against former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, ruling that the "indictment falls squarely within" the authority given to the special counsel for the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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.

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.

In a sharp rebuke of those claims, judge Amy Berman Jackson of USA 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.

The charges before Judge Jackson arise out of Manafort's "lobbying and political consulting activities on behalf of Ukraine, the pro-Russia political party in Ukraine, and the former President of Ukraine who fled to Russian Federation in 2014".


"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. Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment.

This reading constitutes a grant of wide authority to Mueller's team, suggesting that any other attempts to challenge his jurisdiction will face significant hurdles.

Additionally, Jackson said that the Justice Department regulations created for special counsel investigations are not enforceable for defendants in court. It also accuses him of fraudulently obtaining millions in loans from financial institutions including while he worked for the Trump campaign.

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.

The ruling marks a setback for Mr Manafort, who last month was buoyed when the judge in the Alexandria case aggressively questioned prosecutors about whether their case was overly broad and mused that he believed they were using the charges to get him to turn over dirt on Mr Trump. His lawyers filed for a dismissal on the basis that the charges extended beyond the scope of Mueller's appointment.

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