Special counsel Mueller had authority to prosecute Manafort, federal judge rules


A federal district court judge on Tuesday rejected former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's request to toss out five criminal charges against him in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE's Russian Federation investigation.

She said: the Manafort indictment falls "squarely within" Mueller's authority; the investigation was "logical and appropriate; special counsel regulations do not "create any substantive rights for the benefit of individuals under investigation"; Mueller would have been "remiss" to ignore this "obvious potential link" between Manafort's alleged Ukraine dealings and Russia's election interference". A spokesman for the Special Counsel declined to comment.

The charges against him in the Washington case include conspiring to launder money, conspiring to defraud the United States and failing to register as a foreign agent.

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. Manafort is also facing charges of bank fraud in Virginia.

Manafort and his lawyer's had argued Rosenstein acted improperly by appointing Mueller to investigate collusion with Russian Federation and "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation".

This means that the criminal case against Manafort in Washington D.C. can move forward.

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. And Donald Trump cited them in a speech to the National Rifle Association to claim that Mueller's indictment is a "phony Russian Federation witch hunt".

Manafort was, at one time, not merely "associated with", but the chairman of, the Presidential campaign, and his work on behalf of the Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record.

Jackson sided with prosecutors who had produced an August 2017 memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. And regardless, she wrote, it was clear that Mueller had been specifically authorized to investigate not only Manafort's possible links to Russian Federation but also his Ukrainian business. In that case, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis of the Eastern District of Virginia expressed skepticism earlier this month of the scope of Mueller's authority.

Manafort has filed a similar motion to dismiss his charges in Virginia.

Judge Ellis, who was appointed to the bench by Republican president Ronald Reagan, has also said he too wants to see an unredacted copy before he can fully form a decision on whether to dismiss the charges.