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Special Counsel Within Bounds, Manafort Going to Trial, Judge Rules

paul manafort at federal district court dc

WASHINGTON -- The judge who ruled against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's motion to dismiss stated in the decision that special counsel Robert Mueller "would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious potential link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.“

Manafort had argued that Mueller has exceeded his investigatory authority and that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's directive for Mueller to pursue “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” fell outside the scope of Justice Department regulations on special counsels.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson found that Rosenstein's continuing consultation with and supervision of Mueller negated that argument, and said that those outside the Justice Department can't enforce internal policies thus "Manafort cannot predicate a motion to dismiss on the regulations."

"In addition, the regulations place no boundaries on who can be investigated or what charges can be brought – what they address is who decides who the prosecutor will be," she wrote.

Jackson wrote in the 37-page ruling that 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."

"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. 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," she wrote.

"Finally, the case did not arise in a vacuum, and the Special Counsel did not create his own job description. He was appointed to take over an existing investigation, and it appears from the chronology and the written record that the matters contained in the Superseding 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. 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.

"This is exactly what the Department of Justice regulations contemplate: a specific factual statement of the matters to be investigated. So to the extent the regulations bear on this case at all, they were not violated; the management of the investigation into the allegations against Manafort has been consistent with the objectives and requirements of the set of regulations as a whole, as well as the terms of the individual regulation upon which the defendant relies."