Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Judge upholds Mueller's authority to prosecute former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort

Judge upholds Mueller's authority to prosecute former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort

In response to these charges, Manafort claimed that he could not be prosecuted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller because the particular charges against him are outside of Mueller's properly delegated authority.

She added that it was appropriate for federal investigators to look into Manafort's business connections in Russia and Ukraine while Mueller's office investigated possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Third, Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had broad authority to "authorize the Special Counsel to investigate not only 'links and/or coordination, ' but also, 'any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.'" So even if the charges against Manafort were not sufficiently tied to Russian Federation, they could still potentially proceed under the remainder of the powers delegated to Mueller.

"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.

Mr 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", wrote judge Jackson, who was appointed by Democratic president Barack Obama. Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment. Jackson said that even if the Manafort case didn't arise from links to Russian Federation, and instead was a matter that arose from that investigation, the indictment should stand.

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".

The decision allows one of two criminal cases against Manafort to proceed. Manafort is charged with tax and bank fraud connected to his lobbying work for the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia interests in Ukraine. It also accuses him of fraudulently obtaining millions in loans from financial institutions including while he worked for the Trump campaign.

"It bears emphasizing at this stage that Manafort is presumed to be innocent of these charges, and it will be the prosecution's burden to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt".

None of the charges against Manafort involve crimes related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. His lawyers filed for a dismissal on the basis that the charges extended beyond the scope of Mueller's appointment.

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.

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