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Mueller wins as judge upholds his authority in Manafort case

16 May 2018

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.

Photo/Andrew HarnikPaul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, departs Federal District Court, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, in Washington.

Third, Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had broad authority to "authorize the Special Counsel to investigate not only 'links and/or coordination, ' but also, 'any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.'" So even if the charges against Manafort were not sufficiently tied to Russian Federation, they could still potentially proceed under the remainder of the powers delegated to Mueller.

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"Manafort's civil case will be dismissed", United States District Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote in the order. "So even in the unlikely event that the Acting Attorney General and the Special Counsel never discussed what the investigation included at the time of the appointment, the singular event that defendant insists would be necessary to make his indictment valid - an explicit referral of the specific matter to the Special Counsel - has taken place".

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".

"When it promulgated the regulations, the department anticipated that a special counsel, like any other prosecutor, could become aware of, and could have legitimate reasons to explore, paths that branch out naturally from the original investigation, as well as entirely new and disconnected allegations", Jackson wrote. A spokesman for the Special Counsel declined to comment. Jackson, in her 36-page opinion, rejected Manafort's claims that the Ukraine business dealings were outside Mueller's scope.

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The decision allows one of two criminal cases against Manafort to proceed. Manafort was indicted in October on charges of financial fraud and violating lobbying disclosure laws by failing to register his past work for the Russia-backed government of Ukraine.

Manafort has filed a similar motion to dismiss his charges in Virginia. 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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Mueller wins as judge upholds his authority in Manafort case