US judge refuses to dismiss ex-Trump aide Paul Manafort's criminal case

US Judge Refuses to Dismiss Ex-Trump Aide Paul 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 claims that these charges are beyond Mueller's authority, which extends to "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump", and "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation", among other things.

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

He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, none of which are directly related to work he performed for Mr Trump's campaign.

As Judge Jackson explains, Manafort's challenge to Mueller's authority fails for four reasons.

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.

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Jackson added it was "logical and appropriate" for investigators tasked with pursuing any links to the Russian Federation investigation to direct their attention toward Manafort, due to his role in Trump's campaign. The charges against Manafort relate to his decade of work as a political consultant to Ukrainian politicians. On May 4, Ellis ordered Mueller's prosecutors two weeks to provide "completely unredacted versions of [Deputy Attorney General] Rosenstein's orders assigning special counsel Mueller" before he would make a decision on keeping the Manafort indictment or dismissing it.

In response to the ruling, Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said: "Paul Manafort maintains his innocence and looks forward to prevailing in this matter".

The ruling marks a setback for Mr Manafort, who last month was buoyed when the judge in the Alexandria case aggressively questioned prosecutors about whether their case was overly broad and mused that he believed they were using the charges to get him to turn over dirt on Mr Trump.

Giuliani himself mentioned Judge T.S. Ellis' remarks in a BuzzFeed News interview.

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". Judge Amy Berman Jackson clearly didn't not have the same issues when Manafort and his legal team questioned the scope of Mueller's authority in the case against Manafort in D.C.

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