Special counsel Robert Mueller was working within his authority when he brought charges against President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a federal judge in Washington ruled Tuesday.
She said: the Manafort indictment falls "squarely within" Mueller's authority; the investigation was "logical and appropriate; special counsel regulations do not "create any substantive rights for the benefit of individuals under investigation"; Mueller would have been "remiss" to ignore this "obvious potential link" between Manafort's alleged Ukraine dealings and Russia's election interference". Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment on the ruling.
The ruling marks a setback for Manafort, who last month was buoyed when another US judge in Virginia who is hearing the tax charges against him questioned prosecutors about whether their case went beyond the mandate of Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.
The decision was a setback for Paul Manafort in his defence against charges of money-laundering conspiracy, false statements and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Ellis expressed his skepticism at a previous hearing that Mueller's current investigation into Russian coordination during the 2016 campaign would connect to Manafort's lobbying activities years before the Trump campaign existed.
"Manafort was, at one time, not merely "associated with" but the chairman of the presidential campaign and his work on behalf of the Russian-backed Ukrainian national party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record", Jackson wrote. He has pleaded not guilty in that case, as well as in the charges that included bank fraud and tax fraud that were brought against him in Virginia. Previously Law&Crime speculated that maybe Trump might be waiting to see how the Manafort cases in EDVA and D.C. would shake out before making a decision about speaking to Mueller.
Judge Jackson was not moved by any of Mr Manafort's assertions. 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".
But her ruling is even stronger than that. That memo explicitly gave the special counsel authority to probe all of Mr Manafort's Ukraine-related work predating the 2016 campaign.
Manafort's lawyers' previous push for dismissal hinged on the argument that because the crimes in question do not directly relate to Mueller's core mandate - investigating whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow - he was not authorized to charge Manafort with them.
That judge, T.S. Ellis, said he believed prosecutors were using the charges against Manafort to try to get him to turn against Trump.