Judge refuses to dismiss ex-Trump aide Manafort's criminal case

Judge refuses to dismiss ex-Trump aide Manafort's criminal case

A federal judge ruled Tuesday against the motion by lawyers for Paul Manafort to dismiss the charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference.

Manafort, a former chairman for the Trump campaign, has been charged in D.C. with money laundering, failure to register foreign lobbying and false statements.

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. "She goes on to say: "[Even] if one posits that the scrutiny of Manafort's alleged activities on behalf of Ukraine did not flow from the investigation of "links" to Russian Federation that was assigned to the Special Counsel, and that instead, it was a "matter that arose" from that investigation, the indictment should not be dismissed".

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 appointment order here purports to give the Special Counsel power to investigate a specifically identified matter and anything that arises in the course of the investigation, without further consulting or obtaining approval from the Attorney General or Acting Attorney General", a filing by Manafort's lawyer read.

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But her ruling is even stronger than that. Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment.

Jackson said Justice Department regulations allow for a "broad grant of authority".

As Judge Jackson explains, Manafort's challenge to Mueller's authority fails for four reasons. The Virginia indictment accuses him of hiding tens of millions of dollars he earned advising pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine from 2006 through 2015.

"It bears emphasizing at this stage that Manafort is presumed to be innocent of these charges, and it will be the prosecution's burden to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt".

Manafort, Jackson said, was not merely associated with President Donald Trump's campaign but served as its chairman for a time. The judge there is weighing a similar request to dismiss a tax- and bank-fraud case against him. 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.

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