Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Judge rejects Manafort attempt to dismiss criminal case

Judge rejects Manafort attempt to dismiss criminal case

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 Mueller and Mueller's case against Manafort is not overly broad or improper.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to charges related to his lobbying work for Ukrainian politicians dating back to a decade ago. Manafort had argued that Mueller had exceeded his authority because the case was unrelated to Russian election interference.

"The special counsel would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious potential link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government", Jackson wrote.

WASHINGTON, DC. - President Donald Trump's attorney has an unlikely new role model for special counsel Robert Mueller: James Comey.

Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, later responded to the ruling: "Paul Manafort maintains his innocence and looks forward to prevailing in this matter".

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Manafort's attorneys have argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein acted improperly when he appointed Mueller in May 2017 to investigate not only collusion with Russian Federation but any other issues that "may arise" from that investigation.

Manafort, she wrote, "was, at one time, not merely 'associated with, ' but the chairman of, the Presidential campaign, and his work on behalf of the Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record". But US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson disagreed.

The indictment said Concord was controlled by Russian businessman Evgeny Prigozhin, who USA officials have said has extensive ties to Russia's military and political establishment.

Even if the charges arose from the challenged authority grant, Manafort can't win dismissal of the indictment because the Justice Department regulations regarding the appointment of special counsel don't create substantive rights for individuals under investigation, Jackson said. In addition to the Washington indictment, Manafort also faces charges in Virginia of bank fraud and tax evasion. 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. But Ellis also suggested that if he ruled in Manafort's favor, the case could simply be returned to the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

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