A Washington judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss the charges pending against former Trump campaign executive Paul Manafort, partially dashing his hopes of walking away just as the investigation is entering what many expect will be its home stretch.
US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected the dismissal motion filed by Manafort’s legal team on Tuesday.
Berman’s opinion should not be confused with that of another judge, just across the state line in Virginia, where a parallel suit is taking place. Recall that two weeks ago, Eastern District of Virginia Judge T.S. Ellis, a Reagan appointee, said Mueller shouldn’t have “unfettered power” to prosecute Manafort on charges that have nothing to do with Russia.
Ellis added that he’s concerned Mueller is only pursuing charges against Manafort to pressure him into turning on Trump. The Judge added that the charges brought against Manafort didn’t appear to stem from Mueller’s collusion probe. Instead, they resulted from an older investigation carried out by the Obama Justice Department that was eventually abandoned, Bloomberg reported.
Ellis also required Mueller’s prosecutors to turn over an unredacted version of the August 2, 2017 memo that Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein used to describe the criminal allegations Mueller’s team could investigate.
Yet Judge Berman Jackson said it was within Mueller’s mandate to investigate “any links” between Trump campaign people and Russia.
“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,” Jackson wrote in her ruling.
Her decision will clear the way for Manafort to stand trial in September, absent some unexpected development out of Ellis and the Virginia Court.
Manafort is charged in Virginia with financial violations related to his lobbying work in Ukraine – work that occurred long before he joined the Trump campaign. Other charges are being heard in federal court.
As one Bloomberg editorial writer pointed out on Twitter, not one of the charges filed against Manafort has anything to do with collusion.
Mueller took a year to obtain 19 indictments, 13 of them against Russians who will never face a court, one against Manafort based on an earlier FBI investigation, one against a guy who opened bank accounts for Russian trolls and four more for lying to the FBI. Wow! Great job!
— Leonid Bershidsky (@Bershidsky) May 15, 2018
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