Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

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

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

Manafort's defense team argued Mueller didn't have the authority to file certain charges.

The indictment said Concord was controlled by Russian businessman Evgeny Prigozhin, who US officials have said has extensive ties to Russia's military and political establishment. But US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson disagreed.

In a court filing on Monday, lawyers for Concord Management and Consulting LLC said Mueller had wrongfully accused the company of a "make-believe crime", in a political effort by the special counsel to "justify his own existence" by indicting "a Russian-any Russian".

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Giuliani is said to have left the firm due to the all-consuming nature of his duties on Trump's legal team, which is fronting Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible collusion with Russian Federation.

After Jackson's ruling against Manafort, his spokesman Jason Maloni said Manafort "maintains his innocence and looks forward to prevailing in this matter".

"Even if a judge were to conclude that the regulations could give rise to rights that can be enforced in a courtroom", Judge Jackson wrote in her memorandum, "the Acting Attorney General did not violate those regulations when he exercised his statutory 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'".

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

And regardless, she wrote, it was clear that Mueller had been specifically authorised to investigate not only Manafort's possible links to Russian Federation but also his Ukrainian business.

Rosenstein also had authority "to define the Special Counsel's charter broadly", and explicitly confirmed Mueller's authority to investigate Manafort's Ukrainian work in an August 2017 memo, she found. It was the first brought by Mueller directly charging Russians for alleged criminal offenses connected with their activities during the election. In Virginia, he faces charges that include bank fraud and filing false tax returns.

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Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, none of which are directly related to work he performed for Trump's campaign. Nevertheless, Manafort's claims seemed to take on a new life earlier this month when Judge T.S. Ellis, the judge hearing the remaining charges against Mueller, asked some skeptical questions about Mueller's authority during a recent hearing.

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