Judge rules special counsel had authority to prosecute Manafort

President Donald Trump listens during a roundtable on immigration policy in California in the Cabinet Room of the White House Wednesday

Paul Manafort has struck out again in his efforts to get Special Counsel Robert Mueller's case against him thrown out or curtailed on the basis that Mueller's investigation was improper.

The decision was a setback for Manafort in his defense against charges of money-laundering conspiracy, false statements and acting as an unregistered foreign agent related to his Ukrainian political work. 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.

Mr Manafort, who performed lobbying work for a pro-Russian former Ukrainian president before serving as Mr Trump's campaign chairman in 2016, is facing two indictments brought by Mr Mueller in federal courts in Washington and Alexandria, Virginia.

A federal judge in Washington DC is proceeding with the criminal case brought forward by special counsel Robert Mueller, regarding Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman.

The judge deemed that the indictment "falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel", according to The Atlantic staff writer Natasha Bertrand.

Later in the opinion, the judge clearly says that it was squarely within Mueller's scope to pursue Manafort's links to Russian Federation.

First, the indictment "falls squarely" within Mueller's authority to investigate the Trump campaign's ties to Russian Federation. So Manafort has no right to challenge an alleged violation of those regulations.

She cites the instructions drafted for Mueller by Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, which instruct the special counsel to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign".

Finally, Mueller was appointed "to take over an existing investigation".

"When it promulgated the regulations, the department anticipated that a special counsel, like any other prosecutor, could become aware of, and could have legitimate reasons to explore, paths that branch out naturally from the original investigation, as well as entirely new and disconnected allegations", Jackson wrote.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia.

Ellis set a trial date for July 10, but hasn't ruled yet on whether to dismiss.

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. Indeed, there is some evidence that Ellis is the kind of judge who likes to play Devil's Advocate. 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".

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