Judge throws out Manafort's latest attempt to block Mueller

Judge denies ex Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s request to dismiss his federal indictment

In both criminal cases, Manafort has asked the courts to dismiss the charges on the grounds that Rosenstein's May 17 appointment order hiring Mueller runs afoul of Justice Department rules on special counsels.

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".

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

Manafort is scheduled for trial in DC in September. Jackson, in her 36-page opinion, rejected Manafort's claims that the Ukraine business dealings were outside Mueller's scope.

Manafort, she wrote, "was, at one time, not merely 'associated with, ' but the chairman of, the Presidential campaign, and his work on behalf of the Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record".

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, speaks to the media with an announcement that the office of special counsel Robert Mueller says a grand jury has charged 13 Russian nationals and several Russian entities, February 16, 2018, in Washington. The memo showed Rosenstein authorized Mueller to investigate Manafort's Ukrainian work and related financial crimes.

"The Special Counsel would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious potential link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government", she wrote later in the opinion. Jackson said that even if the Manafort case didn't arise from links to Russian Federation, and instead was a matter that arose from that investigation, the indictment should stand. "The management of the investigation into the allegations against Manafort has been consistent with the objectives and requirements of the set of regulations as a whole, as well as the terms of the individual regulation upon which the defendant relies", said Jackson, a 2011 Obama appointee. Ellis expressed his skepticism at a previous hearing that Mueller's current investigation into Russian coordination during the 2016 campaign would connect to Manafort's lobbying activities years before the Trump campaign existed.

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.

In addition to the Washington indictment, Manafort also faces charges in Virginia of bank fraud and tax evasion.

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