Judge Denies Manafort's Motion To Dismiss Some Of Mueller's Charges

April FrancisMay 16, 2018

U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson on Tuesday denied President Donald Trump's one-time campaign chairman Paul Manafort in his request to dismiss the charges brought against him by the special counsel.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Mueller had the right to bring the charges against Manafort, shutting down the argument by Manafort's lawyer that they had nothing to do with the Russian Federation investigation.

"The Special Counsel would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious potential link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government", she wrote later in the opinion. Jackson said that even if Mueller proceeded on Manafort as a "matter that arose" from the investigation, the indictment should stand.

He faces a separate set of bank fraud and other financial charges in Virginia, for a trial set to begin in July.

"Paul Manafort maintains his innocence and looks forward to prevailing in this matter", his spokesman, Jason Maloni, said in an email.

Citing Manafort's years of work in Ukraine, his prominent role on the Trump campaign and his publicized connections to Russian figures, Jackson said it was "logical and appropriate" for Mueller's team to scrutinize him as part of their investigation into Russian election meddling and possible coordination with Trump associates.

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Manafort's lawyers' previous push for dismissal hinged on the argument that because the crimes in question do not directly relate to Mueller's core mandate - investigating whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow - he was not authorized to charge Manafort with them.

In her ruling on Tuesday, Jackson expressed no such qualms about Mueller's authority.

Manafort's defense lawyer, former MIller & Chevalier partner Kevin Downing, has stressed that the alleged misconduct predated the 2016 presidential campaign and therefore was outside Mueller's authority. Ellis has not yet ruled on Manafort's challenge to the indictment there.

Those regulations, Jackson said, "place no boundaries on who can be investigated or what charges can be brought-what they address is who decides who the prosecutor will be".

Jackson said it was "logical and appropriate" for investigators to probe Manafort's dealings with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted by street protests in 2014 and now lives in exile in Russian Federation. Jackson, in her 36-page opinion, rejected Manafort's claims that the Ukraine business dealings were outside Mueller's scope.

The ruling marks a setback for Manafort, who last month was buoyed when another US judge in Virginia who is hearing the tax charges against him questioned prosecutors about whether their case went beyond the mandate of Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

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