A federal judge in Washington DC is proceeding with the criminal case brought forward by special counsel Robert Mueller, regarding Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman.
US district judge Amy Jackson declined to throw out the case against Manafort, who faces two indictments from the special counsel. Manafort is charged in Virginia and Washington with tax and bank fraud connected to his lobbying work for the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia interests in Ukraine.
The judge deemed that the indictment “falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel.”
“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,” the ruling reads.
Judge Jackson previously dismissed a civil case Manafort filed against Mueller, in which Manafort’s attorneys argued that the scope of Mueller’s investigation was too broad.
Manafort’s lawyers’ previous push for dismissal hinged on the argument that because the crimes in question do not directly relate to Mueller’s core mandate — investigating whether members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow — he was not authorized to charge Manafort with them.
Judge Jackson added that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein followed the appropriate rules and possessed the judicial authority when he appointed Mueller to investigate the Russian government’s efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election.
In appointing Mueller in May 2017, Rosenstein gave him broad authority not only to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated” with the Trump campaign, but also to examine “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Earlier this year, it surfaced that Rosenstein also sent a memo to Mueller in August outlining the full scope of his mandate and specific threads he was allowed to investigate.
Per the memo, Mueller is authorized to investigate two threads related to Manafort:
- Whether Manafort colluded with Russian government officials as Russia was trying to meddle in the 2016 US election.
- Whether he committed any crimes “arising out of payments he received from the Ukrainian government before and during the tenure of President Viktor Yanukovych.”
Manafort pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
Sonam Sheth contributed reporting.