Saturday, 26 May, 2018

Judge throws out Manafort's latest attempt to block Mueller

Indicted firm: Mueller trying to 'justify his own existence' and 'indict a Russian — any Russian' Indicted Russian Firm Accuses US Of Inventing 'Make-Believe Crime'
Ellis Copeland | 16 May, 2018, 21:14

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.

Jackson added it was "logical and appropriate" for investigators tasked with pursuing any links to the Russian Federation investigation to direct their attention toward Manafort, due to his role in Trump's campaign. But US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson disagreed.

Earlier this month, Judge T.S. Ellis, a federal judge in Virginia, questioned the scope of Mueller's investigation, at times warning against "unfettered power" and calling attention to the fact that charges against Manafort predate his time on the Trump campaign.

Judge refuses to toss Manafort charges; another...

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

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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. Manafort was the campaign's chairman, and "his work on behalf of the Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record".

The indictment said Concord was controlled by Russian businessman Evgeny Prigozhin, who US officials have said has extensive ties to Russia's military and political establishment. "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.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to charges related to his lobbying work for Ukrainian politicians dating back to a decade ago.

Jackson said the regulations are not meant to allow investigation targets to use them to challenge criminal, but are intended to provide independence and accountability in sensitive investigations, giving a special counsel wide discretion while requiring department consultation and approval, which she said was done.

Jackson, in her Tuesday memorandum opinion, appeared to push back on Ellis' skepticism of the special counsel's broad mandate, arguing that Rosenstein granted Mueller the power to investigate "any matters that arose" from his immediate probe of Russian meddling.

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