Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Federal judge just ruled on Paul Manafort's motion to dismiss Mueller charges

Rudy Giuliani seen in Washington on May 5 US Judge Refuses to Dismiss Ex-Trump Aide Paul Manafort's Criminal Case
Glenn Montgomery | 16 May, 2018, 15:06

Manafort's motion to dismiss the case Mueller brought against him in Virginia is still pending.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to charges related to his lobbying work for Ukrainian politicians dating back to a decade ago.

"The appointment order here purports to give the Special Counsel power to investigate a specifically identified matter and anything that arises in the course of the investigation, without further consulting or obtaining approval from the Attorney General or Acting Attorney General", a filing by Manafort's lawyer read.

Rosenstein "expressly approved the Special Counsel's investigation of the facts alleged in the indictment, so there has been no violation of the regulations, and the Special Counsel did not act without authority", she wrote. Manafort had argued that Mueller had exceeded his authority because the case was unrelated to Russian election interference.

First, the indictment "falls squarely" within Mueller's authority to investigate the Trump campaign's ties to Russian Federation.

Manafort 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.

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".

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

Jackson said the case against Manafort should proceed even if scrutiny of his past activity came about not from the investigation of "links" to Russian but rather as a "matter that arose" from that probe.

"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.

To be clear, nothing in Jackson's decision is especially surprising - Manafort's challenge to Mueller's authority was always a long shot that was unlikely to prevail. US District Judge T.S. Ellis III has yet to rule on it. Ellis had previously grilled Mueller's team on whether the case was within his mandate and questioned whether they brought the case to get Manafort to testify against Trump. Indeed, there is some evidence that Ellis is the kind of judge who likes to play Devil's Advocate.

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