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Judge rules Mueller has authority to prosecute former Trump campaign chairman Manafort
16 May 2018, 12:40 | Marta Robbins
Special Counsel Within Bounds, Manafort Going to Trial, Judge Rules
I don't see what relation this indictment has with what the special counsel is authorized to investigate.
"Manafort complains that the appointment order 'purports to give the special counsel jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute anything else he might discover during the course of the original investigation", Jackson wrote, "but that is not what the order says".
The charges Manafort faces in D.C. include money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
The charges before Judge Jackson arise out of Manafort's "lobbying and political consulting activities on behalf of Ukraine, the pro-Russia political party in Ukraine, and the former President of Ukraine who fled to Russian Federation in 2014".
Referring to Mueller's appointment order, she said that the charges fell "squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel that Manafort finds unobjectionable: the order to investigate 'any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign.' (Manafort had also challenged the provision of the appointment order that said that Mueller could investigate matters "that arose or may arise directly" from the probe)".
After Jackson's ruling against Manafort, his spokesman Jason Maloni said Manafort "maintains his innocence and looks forward to prevailing in this matter". Manafort had argued that Mueller had exceeded his authority because the case was unrelated to Russian election interference.
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Jackson was not moved by Manafort's argument that the case should be dismissed on the grounds that his Ukraine dealings predated the 2016 election by at least two years.
"Manafort was, at one time, not merely "associated with" but the chairman of the presidential campaign and his work on behalf of the Russian-backed Ukrainian national party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record", Jackson wrote.
This is notable because the Trump Administration, including Donald Trump, used Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) Judge T.S. Ellis' pointed line of questioning about Mueller's authority a week and half ago in a separate fraud case to suggest that even a federal judge recognizes that a witch hunt is afoot.
Jackson's ruling also offered support to the Justice Department regulations that gave rise to Mueller's appointment to lead the Russian Federation investigation.
"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".
The ruling marks a setback for Mr Manafort, who last month was buoyed when the judge in the Alexandria case aggressively questioned prosecutors about whether their case was overly broad and mused that he believed they were using the charges to get him to turn over dirt on Mr Trump.