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

US Judge Refuses to Dismiss Ex-Trump Aide Paul Manafort's Criminal Case

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.

The cases are U.S. v. Manafort, 18-cr-83, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria), and U.S. v. Manafort, 17-cr-201, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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".

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.

Rosenstein "expressly approved the Special Counsel's investigation of the facts alleged in the indictment, so there has been no violation of the regulations, and the Special Counsel did not act without authority", she wrote.

Later in the opinion, the judge clearly says that it was squarely within Mueller's scope to pursue Manafort's links to Russian Federation. Manafort was the campaign's chairman, and "his work on behalf of the Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record". "Thus, the indictment falls well within the authority granted to the special counsel to conduct the ongoing investigation".

"Given what was being said publicly, the special counsel would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government", Jackson wrote.

Finally, Mueller was appointed "to take over an existing investigation".

Jackson said Justice Department regulations allow for a "broad grant of authority" for special counsels. Additionally, Rosenstein "confirmed in writing that he assigned the Special Counsel the specific responsibility to investigate the very allegations that comprise the" challenged indictment.

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

In her ruling on Tuesday, Jackson expressed no such qualms about Mueller's authority. His lawyers filed for a dismissal on the basis that the charges extended beyond the scope of Mueller's appointment. At a May 4 hearing, Ellis posed a series of sharp questions to a Justice Department lawyer, suggesting he may dismiss the case.

Nevertheless, Ellis's questions inspired some breathless headlines from news outlets covering the trial.

Mr Trump has denied that his campaign colluded with Russian Federation and called the probe that has dogged his presidency a "witch hunt".

Judge Jackson's opinion is a warning that Trump might want to stop counting his chickens.

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