US Judge Refuses to Dismiss Ex-Trump Aide Paul Manafort's Criminal Case

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

"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 said.

U.S. district judge Amy Jackson declined to throw out the case against Manafort, who faces two indictments from the special counsel.

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", wrote Jackson, who was appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama.

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Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel's office, declined to comment on the ruling. "So even in the unlikely event that the Acting Attorney General and the Special Counsel never discussed what the investigation included at the time of the appointment, the singular event that defendant insists would be necessary to make his indictment valid - an explicit referral of the specific matter to the Special Counsel - has taken place".

As Judge Jackson explains, Manafort's challenge to Mueller's authority fails for four reasons.

Rosenstein also had authority "to define the Special Counsel's charter broadly", and explicitly confirmed Mueller's authority to investigate Manafort's Ukrainian work in an August 2017 memo, she found.

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"Who had connections to the Russian government?" Her decision on Wednesday allows one of two criminal cases against Manafort to proceed.

He faces a separate set of bank fraud and other financial charges in Virginia, for a trial set to begin in July. The Virginia indictment accuses him of hiding tens of millions of dollars he earned advising pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine from 2006 through 2015.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, none of which are directly related to work he performed for Trump's campaign. 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.

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