Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Judge rejects Manafort motion to dismiss Russian Federation probe charges

Judge rejects Manafort motion to dismiss Russian Federation probe charges

Paul Manafort (L) leaves the Alexandria Federal Courthouse with his attorney Kevin Downing (C) on May 4, 2018 in Virgina.

Manafort had claimed special counsel Robert Mueller's appointment order was too broad, and thus his investigation had overstepped its legal authority.

Special counsel Robert Mueller was working within his authority when he brought charges against President Trump's former campaign chairman, a federal judge in Washington ruled Tuesday. "But the indictment will not be dismissed, and the matter will proceed to trial", Berman Jackson wrote in her opinion Tuesday.

In her 37-page ruling, Jackson went through a point-by-point rejection of Manafort's other arguments, including his contention that Mueller had been given a "blank check" to investigate anything "he may stumble across".

None of the charges against Manafort involve crimes related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.


"[Ellis' comments] have really thrown this into a new dimension if there's a real possibility they [the special counsel's office] don't have authorization", Giuliani said, adding that if Ellis ruled against Mueller, "They're going to have a big problem".

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. 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 Virginia indictment accuses him of hiding tens of millions of dollars he earned advising pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine from 2006 through 2015.

None of the charges relate to allegations of Russian election interference and possible coordination with Trump associates, the main thrust of Mueller's public appointment order.

"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".

This is notable because the Trump Administration, including Donald Trump, used Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) Judge T.S. Ellis' pointed line of questioning about Mueller's authority a week and half ago in a separate fraud case to suggest that even a federal judge recognizes that a witch hunt is afoot.

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