Judge: Special counsel had authority to prosecute Paul Manafort

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A federal judge in Washington refused to toss Paul Manafort's criminal case Tuesday, saying his indictment "falls squarely" within special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's authority to investigate ties between the Russian Federation government and President Trump's 2016 campaign.

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.

Jackson called it "logical and appropriate" for investigators tasked with probing for links between the Russian government and campaign associates "to direct their attention to him".

"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.

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The charges against him in the Washington case include conspiring to launder money, conspiring to defraud the United States and failing to register as a foreign agent.

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. The charges against Manafort relate to his decade of work as a political consultant to Ukrainian politicians.

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

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".

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Jackson ordered that Robert Mueller's authority under the special counsel guidelines is wide enough to cover investigation of Manafort, given he was Trump's campaign chairman.

"The motion to dismiss will be denied for a number of reasons", ruled U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a 36-page opinion.

Manafort's attorneys have argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein acted improperly when he appointed Mueller in May 2017 to investigate not only collusion with Russian Federation but any other issues that "may arise" from that investigation.

This is notable because the Trump Administration, including Donald Trump, used Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) Judge T.S. Ellis' pointed line of questioning about Mueller's authority a week and half ago in a separate fraud case to suggest that even a federal judge recognizes that a witch hunt is afoot. "The regulations do not allow for such an expansive appointment".

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It said that Mueller should purse allegations that Manafort "committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials" and that he committed crimes "arising out of payments he received from the Ukrainian government" before and after the term of President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia. Ellis, who has yet to issue an order, has asked to see an unredacted copy of the memo that lays out the special counsel's lines of investigation.

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