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

Judge: Special counsel had authority to prosecute Paul Manafort

Judge: Special counsel had authority to prosecute Paul Manafort

U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson on Tuesday denied President Donald Trump's one-time campaign chairman Paul Manafort in his request to dismiss the charges brought against him by the special counsel.

Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, faces an array of criminal charges in two different federal courts, including money laundering charges and allegations that he worked as an unregistered agent for the Ukrainian government.

But Berman Jackson concluded for several reasons that Mueller's investigation and prosecution of Manafort is legal - and that the special counsel still can maintain some independence while working within the Department of Justice.

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"The case did not arise in a vacuum, and the special counsel did not create his own job description", Jackson wrote.

In a sharp rebuke of those claims, judge Amy Berman Jackson of United States district court for the District of Columbia ruled that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had followed all the justice department's rules when he hired Mr Mueller and the case against Mr Manafort is not overly broad or improper.

In her 37-page ruling, Jackson went through a point-by-point rejection of Manafort's other arguments, including his contention that Mueller had been given a "blank check" to investigate anything "he may stumble across". 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. And it appears that the challenged indictment "were already a part of the ongoing inquiry that was lawfully transferred to the Special Counsel by the Department of Justice in May of 2017".

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Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel's office, declined to comment.

Previously, Manafort was charged with a litany of formal accusations that are primarily related to his alleged efforts to submit false tax returns, failure to file reports about foreign bank accounts, and commit bank fraud. The Virginia indictment accuses him of hiding tens of millions of dollars he earned advising pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine from 2006 through 2015.

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

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None of the charges against Manafort involve crimes related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential 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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