Paul Manafort just got very bad news from a federal court

Approved'The Special Counsel would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious potential link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government' Judge Amy Berman Jackson said

A Washington federal judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss the criminal charges against former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, ruling that the "indictment falls squarely within" the authority given to the special counsel for the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

US prosecutors said in a filing on Monday that defense attorneys had failed to provide evidence that news reports about Mueller's investigation of Manafort were based on matters before a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, that indicted him in February on tax- and bank-fraud charges.

"Manafort was, at one time, not merely 'associated with, ' but the chairman of, the presidential campaign, and his work on behalf of the Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record", she wrote, adding that it was "logical" for investigators to probe Mr Manafort's dealings.

But Berman Jackson concluded for several reasons that Mueller's investigation and prosecution of Manafort is legal - and that the special counsel still can maintain some independence while working within the Department of Justice.

"Given what was being said publicly, the Special Counsel would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious potential link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government", Jackson wrote.

"The appointment order here purports to give the Special Counsel power to investigate a specifically identified matter and anything that arises in the course of the investigation, without further consulting or obtaining approval from the Attorney General or Acting Attorney General", a filing by Manafort's lawyer read.

In a sharp rebuke of those claims, judge Amy Berman Jackson of United States district court for the District of Columbia ruled that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had followed all the justice department's rules when he hired Mr Mueller and the case against Mr Manafort is not overly broad or improper.

Later in the opinion, the judge clearly says that it was squarely within Mueller's scope to pursue Manafort's links to Russian Federation. And it appears that the challenged indictment "were already a part of the ongoing inquiry that was lawfully transferred to the Special Counsel by the Department of Justice in May of 2017".

Manafort has filed a similar motion to dismiss his charges in Virginia. He has pleaded not guilty in that case, as well as in the charges that included bank fraud and tax fraud that were brought against him in Virginia. In that case, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis of the Eastern District of Virginia expressed skepticism earlier this month of the scope of Mueller's authority.

The fact that Ellis asked such questions does not mean that he will rule in Manafort's favor.

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