Judge Upholds Mueller's Authority To Prosecute Manafort For Ukraine Dealings

  • Judge Upholds Mueller's Authority To Prosecute Manafort For Ukraine Dealings

Judge Upholds Mueller's Authority To Prosecute Manafort For Ukraine Dealings

Manafort had claimed special counsel Robert Mueller's appointment order was too broad, and thus his investigation had overstepped its legal authority.

Manafort has a similar motion pending to dismiss criminal charges set for trial in July in federal court in Alexandria, Va.

Manafort had argued that Mueller had exceeded his authority because the case was unrelated to Russian election interference.

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. His trial is scheduled to start September 17.

A spokesman for Manafort did not have any immediate comment on the ruling.

"Given what was being said publicly, the Special Counsel would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious potential link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government", Jackson wrote.

Jackson sided with prosecutors who had produced an August 2017 memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Citing Manafort's years of work in Ukraine, his prominent role on the Trump campaign and his publicized connections to Russian figures, Jackson said it was "logical and appropriate" for Mueller's team to scrutinize Manafort as part of their investigation into Russian election meddling and possible coordination with Trump associates.

Additionally, Jackson said that the Justice Department regulations created for special counsel investigations are not enforceable for defendants in court.

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

"It bears emphasizing at this stage that Manafort is presumed to be innocent of these charges, and it will be the prosecution's burden to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt".

Jackson said the regulations are not meant to allow investigation targets to use them to challenge criminal, but are intended to provide independence and accountability in sensitive investigations, giving a special counsel wide discretion while requiring department consultation and approval, which she said was done.

Earlier this month, Judge T.S. Ellis, a federal judge in Virginia, questioned the scope of Mueller's investigation, at times warning against "unfettered power" and calling attention to the fact that charges against Manafort predate his time on the Trump campaign. Manafort is also facing charges of bank fraud in Virginia. But Ellis also suggested that if he ruled in Manafort's favor, the case could simply be returned to the USA attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia.