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Special Counsel Within Bounds, Manafort Going to Trial, Judge Rules

Special Counsel Within Bounds, Manafort Going to Trial, Judge Rules

Jackson called it "logical and appropriate" for investigators tasked with probing for links between the Russian government and campaign associates "to direct their attention to him".

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.

Manafort's defense team argued Mueller didn't have the authority to file certain charges.

Manafort's attorneys have argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein acted improperly when he appointed Mueller in May 2017 to investigate not only collusion with Russian Federation but any other issues that "may arise" from that investigation.

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"The indictment falls 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, '" Jackson wrote on Tuesday.

"It bears emphasizing at this stage that Manafort is presumed to be innocent of these charges", Jackson said. Berman Jackson wrote. "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".

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. "More important, the Acting Attorney General has confirmed in writing that he assigned the Special Counsel the specific responsibility to investigate the very allegations that comprise the Superseding Indictment", the ruling continued.

He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, none of which are directly related to work he performed for Trump's campaign. And it appears that the challenged indictment "were already a part of the ongoing inquiry that was lawfully transferred to the Special Counsel by the Department of Justice in May of 2017". He faces a second set of charges in Virginia that include bank fraud and filing false tax returns. US District Judge TS 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.