Federal Judge Questions Mueller's Powers in Manafort Case

Matt Rourke  AP

But Mr. Downing's brief to a federal judge is relevant to the Mueller Russia investigation because it punches a big hole in dossier conspiracies being investigated by the FBI and Congress. Why and who is the longtime political operative? Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

But Mueller has incorporated that investigation into his own probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump associates.

Mueller's team says its authorities are laid out in documents including the August 2017 scope memo - and that some powers are secret because they involve ongoing investigations and national security matters that can not be publicly disclosed.

Manafort attorney Kevin Downing argued that Mueller overstepped his May 2017 appointment order, which directed him to pursue links between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, as well as "any matter that arose or may arise directly" from the investigation.

What kind of foreign work did Manafort do?

'I don't see what relationship this indictment has with what the special counsel is investigating, ' U.S. Senior Judge T.S. Ellis III, a Reagan appointee, told government lawyers at Friday's hearing.

Manafort also worked for Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

Dreeben said the investigations were "folded together with our overall examination of Mr. Manafort's conduct", and he was indicted based on information developed by Mueller as they followed the trail of money that left Ukraine. A trial date in the case is set for July 10.

"None of that information has to do with information related to the Russian government coordination and the campaign of Donald Trump".

How was Manafort involved with Trump's campaign?

"I've been saying that for a long time", Trump said.

What has Manafort been charged with?

The federal judge overseeing the criminal case in Virginia against President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort questioned Friday why special counsel Robert Mueller brought the charges against Manafort.

Ellis said it was implausible to think the charges - about Manafort's business dealings and tax returns from about 2005 through 2015 - could have real ties to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

This might revive an issue that Manafort had lost last month.

Mueller also accused Manafort of secretly paying former European politicians to lobby on behalf of Ukraine. The Judge has not yet ruled on Manafort's motion to dismiss the charges against him, the report added.

But that gets back to one of the original sins of the prosecution of Manafort - It was beyond the scope of Mueller's authority when the investigation started and the raid on Manafort's home took place.

What has the White House said?

"It doesn't have anything to do", Trump said.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also downplayed Manafort's involvement with the campaign in a press briefing.

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