Judge Denies Manafort's Motion to Dismiss Charges in Russia Probe

Judge Denies Manafort's Motion to Dismiss Charges in Russia Probe

A Washington federal judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss the criminal charges against former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, ruling that the "indictment falls squarely within" the authority given to the special counsel for the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

USA district judge Amy Jackson declined to throw out the case against Manafort, who faces two indictments from the special counsel.

In response to the ruling, Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said: "Paul Manafort maintains his innocence and looks forward to prevailing in this matter". In his bid to dismiss the indictment, Downing took aim at a portion of an order establishing Mueller's office that gave the special counsel the power to probe "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation".

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. Manafort is also facing charges of bank fraud in Virginia.

So the charges in Jackson's courtroom will proceed against Manafort, and they will be prosecuted by Robert Mueller.

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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.

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. 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".

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.

US prosecutors said in a filing on Monday that defense attorneys had failed to provide evidence that news reports about Mueller's investigation of Manafort were based on matters before a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, that indicted him in February on tax- and bank-fraud charges. 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. His lawyers filed for a dismissal on the basis that the charges extended beyond the scope of Mueller's appointment.

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