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Judge Upholds Mueller's Authority To Prosecute Manafort For Ukraine Dealings

Judge Upholds Mueller's Authority To Prosecute Manafort For Ukraine Dealings

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has the authority to prosecute Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Trump's presidential campaign.

"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".

Manafort, Jackson said, was not merely associated with President Donald Trump's campaign but served as its chairman for a time.

"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.

USA Today reporter Brad Heath tweeted out Berman Jackson's reasoning for denying a motion to dismiss this afternoon.

This reading constitutes a grant of wide authority to Mueller's team, suggesting that any other attempts to challenge his jurisdiction will face significant hurdles. And his past ties to Ukrainian and Russian figures was a matter of public record, she noted.

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Beyond investigating links between Russian Federation and Trump's campaign, Mueller is also charged with pursuing "any matter that arose or may arise directly" from his collusion probe. It was logical and appropriate for investigators tasked with the investigation of "any links" between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign to direct their attention to him. "Thus, the indictment falls well within the authority granted to the special counsel to conduct the ongoing investigation".

"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.

So the charges in Jackson's courtroom will proceed against Manafort, and they will be prosecuted by Robert Mueller.

Previously, Manafort was charged with a litany of formal accusations that are primarily related to his alleged efforts to submit false tax returns, failure to file reports about foreign bank accounts, and commit bank fraud.

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.