Judge Upholds Manafort Indictment by Mueller

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A federal judge rejected an attempt by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to dismiss an indictment against him by arguing that special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment was flawed, Politico reports. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Mueller’s prosecution of the longtime political consultant on charges of money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent for Ukraine was “squarely” within the authority that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein approved a year ago. Manafort’s “work on behalf of the Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record,” the judge said. Citing press reports that Manafort filed with the court discussing his activities abroad, Jackson suggested it would have been malpractice for Mueller not to have investigated him.

Manafort’s lawyers argued that part of Rosenstein’s order that gave Mueller the authority to pursue “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” gave the special counsel more authority than permitted under Justice Department regulations. Jackson said the subjects that Manafort was indicted for  were part of Mueller’s core focus, not an expansion of it. Manafort’s defense team has appeared more hopeful about a similar motion to dismiss filed against another criminal case Mueller brought against him in Virginia on charges of bank fraud, tax evasion and failing to report foreign bank accounts. The judge in that case, T.S. Ellis III, has expressed skepticism about Mueller’s authority to pursue charges with no obvious connection to Russia.

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