Manafort has a similar motion pending to dismiss criminal charges set for trial in July in federal court in Alexandria, Va. His trial is scheduled to start September 17. Judge Amy Berman Jackson clearly didn't not have the same issues when Manafort and his legal team questioned the scope of Mueller's authority in the case against Manafort in D.C. But in her decision, Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote, "The [Justice Department] regulations place no boundaries on who can be investigated or what charges can be brought".
Jackson said the charges fell within even a separate portion of Mueller's authority that Manafort has found "unobjectionable: the order to investigate 'any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign'".
Second, even if Mueller had exceeded his authority, the regulations governing appointments of special counsel provide that they "are not meant to, do not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity, by any person or entity, in any matter, civil, criminal, or administrative". The charges against Manafort relate to his decade of work as a political consultant to Ukrainian politicians.
She wrote that "given the combination of his prominence within the campaign and his ties to Ukrainian officials supported by and operating out of Russia, as well as to Russian oligarchs, Manafort was an obvious person of interest".
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Third, Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had broad authority to "authorize the Special Counsel to investigate not only 'links and/or coordination, ' but also, 'any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.'" So even if the charges against Manafort were not sufficiently tied to Russian Federation, they could still potentially proceed under the remainder of the powers delegated to Mueller.
"This is exactly what the Department of Justice regulations contemplate".
Jackson's ruling also offered support to the Justice Department regulations that gave rise to Mueller's appointment to lead the Russian Federation investigation. He has also argued that Mr Mueller's case against him has nothing to do with Russian interference in 2016 election, and that the probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into his Ukraine dealings predates the Russia probe.
Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 and resigned that August amid news reports about his activities in Ukraine.
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Jackson had previously thrown out a civil case Manafort brought challenging Mueller's authority.
In the Virginia courthouse, Ellis sharply questioned prosecutors about their motivations and whether they had exceeded their charging authority to pressure Manafort to turn against Trump or colleagues. "Thus, the indictment falls well within the authority granted to the special counsel to conduct the ongoing investigation".
Ellis, a 1987 Reagan appointee, said the special counsel still may well have the authority to bring the charges, adding at one point, "I'm not saying it's illegitimate". Ellis has not yet ruled on Manafort's challenge to the indictment there.
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