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.
"The indictment falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel that Manafort finds unobjectionable: the order to investigate 'any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign, '" Jackson wrote. Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment. Manafort had argued that Mueller had exceeded his authority because the case was unrelated to Russian election interference.
The decision was a setback for Paul Manafort in his defence against charges of money-laundering conspiracy, false statements and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.
But Berman Jackson concluded for several reasons that Mueller's investigation and prosecution of Manafort is legal - and that the special counsel still can maintain some independence while working within the Department of Justice. 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.
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Second, even if Mueller had exceeded his authority, the regulations governing appointments of special counsel provide that they "are not meant to, do not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity, by any person or entity, in any matter, civil, criminal, or administrative".
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.
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". 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". The memo shows Rosenstein authorized Mueller to investigate Manafort's Ukrainian work and related financial crimes. His lawyers filed for a dismissal on the basis that the charges extended beyond the scope of Mueller's appointment. 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.
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.