Judge tosses Manafort lawsuit challenging Mueller's authority

A federal judge Friday dismissed a challenge brought by Paul Manafort to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's criminal probe of Russian interference in 2016 US elections, ruling that Manafort may not use a lawsuit to thwart his prosecution.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued the ruling.

Mr. Manafort is facing dozens of charges of money laundering, bank fraud, tax evasion and failing to register as a foreign agent in connection to work he did for years on behalf of Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine who was an ally of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russian Federation.

Manafort's attorneys, Kevin Downing and Thomas Zehnle, had pointed to that fact in arguing that Mueller had exceeded his authority by bringing charges unrelated to Russian Federation or the Trump campaign.

In separate actions, Paul Manafort has moved to dismiss criminal charges he is scheduled to face in D.C. court in September and other federal tax-related charges he is scheduled to face in an Alexandria courtroom in July.

Read the whole decision at this link.

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Manafort's lawyers dropped the bulk of their challenge in recent weeks, asking Jackson to nullify a paragraph in Mueller's appointment order.

In Friday's filing, Jackson said that a civil case was "not the appropriate vehicle" for Manafort's concerns about "what a prosecutor has done in the past or where he might be headed in the future". Instead, she focused on whether he could bring a civil lawsuit raising those arguments and seeking future-looking relief at all.

In addition to revealing that memo on Mueller's scope, Manafort's push against Mueller prompted prosecutors to reveal they found a link between Manafort's business and a person with Russian intelligence ties during the campaign, and were investigating his interactions with Russians in 2016 and possible campaign finance violations. Representatives of the Justice Department and the special counsel's office declined to comment. Daniel Schwei of the Justice Department's civil division argued that previous precedent should guide the judge to throw out the suit. In the suit that was dismissed today, Manafort's attorney Kevin M. Downing stated that Robert Mueller overstepped the boundaries of his investigation because Paul Manafort's Ukraine dealings were on behalf of Ukraine's pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych and ended before 2014, long before Manafort became involved in Trump's campaign.

Rosenstein took over the special counsel investigation past year after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from matters related to the President Donald Trump campaign.

Jackson also oversees Manafort's criminal case in Washington.

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