Judge throws out Manafort's latest attempt to block Mueller

Russian company indicted by Mueller responds says he charged it with ‘make-believe crime

Russian company indicted by Mueller responds says he charged it with ‘make-believe crime

A federal judge in Washington refused to toss Paul Manafort's criminal case Tuesday, saying his indictment "falls squarely" within special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's authority to investigate ties between the Russian Federation government and President Trump's 2016 campaign.

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.

Jackson called it "logical and appropriate" for investigators tasked with probing for links between the Russian government and campaign associates "to direct their attention to him".

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".

Jackson, in her Tuesday memorandum opinion, appeared to push back on Ellis' skepticism of the special counsel's broad mandate, arguing that Rosenstein granted Mueller the power to investigate "any matters that arose" from his immediate probe of Russian meddling. Judge Amy Berman Jackson clearly didn't not have the same issues when Manafort and his legal team questioned the scope of Mueller's authority in the case against Manafort in D.C.

Manafort, she wrote, "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".

Judge Jackson was not moved by any of Mr Manafort's assertions.

"It's unlikely you're going to persuade me the special counsel has unlimited powers to do anything her or she wants", he added.

As Judge Jackson explains, Manafort's challenge to Mueller's authority fails for four reasons.

A federal judge in Washington DC is proceeding with the criminal case brought forward by special counsel Robert Mueller, regarding Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman.

She defended the actions of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the investigation and appointed Mueller after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.

He said Mueller didn't care about Manafort's alleged bank and tax fraud and wanted to use Manafort as a vehicle to get to Trump. Manafort had argued that Mueller had exceeded his authority because the case was unrelated to Russian election interference.

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., denied the defense's motion to dismiss some of the charges. "Thus, the indictment falls well within the authority granted to the special counsel to conduct the ongoing investigation". But Ellis also suggested that if he ruled in Manafort's favor, the case could simply be returned to the USA attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

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