Manafort loses effort to challenge Mueller's authority

Marsha Scott
April 30, 2018

A federal judge on Friday dismissed a civil lawsuit filed by U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort that objected to the scope of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, saying his concerns could be addressed as part of the criminal proceedings.

CNN states that Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges of fraudulent activity he now faces.

In the lawsuit rejected on Friday, Manafort asked the court to stop Mueller from bringing future charges against him, such as ones related to his work on the Trump campaign.

Manafort's complaint, filed in earlier this year, contended that Mueller had overstepped his boundaries as special counsel when Mueller's investigation into Manafort's past Ukraine business transactions uncovered a possible connection between Manafort and an individual affiliated with a Russian intelligence service during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Challenge: Manafort's legal team claimed that because Mueller was only supposed to look into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election, the charges against him were invalid.

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". Representatives of the Justice Department and the special counsel's office declined to comment.

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Jackson also oversees Manafort's criminal case in Washington.

Jackson cited a federal appeals court ruling that "the subject of a criminal investigation may not bring a civil action to attack an impending criminal prosecution".

After the special counsel charged Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, with charges including money laundering, Manafort sued the Justice Department, Mueller and Rosenstein in January. Paul Manafort's attorneys argued against the "blank check" they say this provision created.

Prosecutors defended their investigation into Manafort, saying his status as a top Trump campaign official and his long-standing ties to Russian-backed politicians, oligarchs and others warranted a probe into whether any served as "back channels" or a means for "surreptitious communications" to the campaign.

Jackson stressed, though, that her order in the civil case does not address the pending motions in Manafort's criminal cases and "should not be read as expressing any opinion" about the merits of those arguments. Manafort defense lawyer, Kevin Downing, a former Miller & Chevalier partner, argued during that hearing that an injunction was necessary to guard against the possibility of future prosecutions in additional jurisdictions.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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