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Judge Denies Manafort's Motion to Dismiss Mueller's Indictment Against Him
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16 May 2018 05:30 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Paul Manafort (Image source: Screenshot)


Paul Manfort has tried seemingly everything to get out of the charges again him, but he's not having much success. Donald Trump's former campaign manager filed a motion to dismiss the grand jury indictment against him in Washington, D.C., but a federal judge has denied him once again.

As Trump's campaign manager from June 2016 until August 2016, he came with a great resumé, having previously been a campaign adviser for Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bob Dole. After he gained attention for his connections to Russia and a former Ukrainian president, he resigned as Trump's campaign manager.

Manafort has been a person of interest in Robert Mueller's investigation into the possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election in Trump's favor. 

Last October he surrendered to the FBI after being indicted by a grand jury. Manafort was charged with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, being an unregistered agent of foreign principal, false statements, and other charges.

Previously Manafort filed a civil lawsuit hoping to stop Mueller's investigation from indicting him again. US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson dismissed the suit. She once again rejected his most recent effort to dismiss the indictment.

"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," wrote Jackson.

Her decision is that because of his work for Trump's campaign and known alliances with Russians and the Ukraine, it was "logical and appropriate" for Mueller's team to focus on Manafort. She added that the appointment order used the phrase "links and/or coordination," meaning Mueller had a wider base to investigate the ties between the campaign and Russia.

"In order to reach the end of the road and come to a conclusion about whether there was coordination or not, a key place to begin is with the individuals who would have been in a position to coordinate," stated Jackson in her decision.

"Who had connections to the Russian government? Who attended meetings on behalf of the campaign? 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."

Yet even if they weren't looking for connections to Russia in the investigation, Manafort would have still failed with his motion to dismiss the indictment, as it was tied to internal Justice Department regulations that don't create legal rights that can be enforced in court, the judge reasoned.

When Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel, along with the collusion investigation, Mueller also had authority to investigate "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation." Manafort felt that gave the special counsel a "blank check" of power.

Once again, Jackson disagreed with him. She found that Rosenstein had the authority "to define the Special Counsel's charter broadly." Mueller didn't write the job description and had walked into an investigation into Manafort that had already begun. Rosenstein had confirmed in a memo that Mueller was authorized to investigate Manafort's activities that took place before he worked on the Trump campaign.

"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," Jackson wrote in her decision.

The former campaign manager also filed motions to suppress evidence that was seized from a storage unit and his home in Virginia. Jackson is set to hear arguments for that this week.

Manafort was also indicted in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Earlier this month US District Judge T.S. Ellis III presided over Manafort's motion to dismiss those charges as well. Ellis asked the attorney representing Mueller's investigation repeatedly how Manafort's case related to the collusion investigation, but he has not announced his decision yet. 

As in the DC case, Manafort has also filed a motion to suppress evidence in the Virginia case. Additionally, he has filed a motion for Ellis to hold a hearing to determine who has been leaking information regarding his case to the media.

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