Published: Mon, April 30, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

A Judge Just Dismissed Paul Manafort's Lawsuit Challenging Mueller's Appointment

A Judge Just Dismissed Paul Manafort's Lawsuit Challenging Mueller's Appointment

A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Trump, that tried to narrow the authority of the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Manafort is separately challenging Mueller's appointment in those cases, and has asked judges to dismiss the indictments filed against him to date. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the special counsel charges.

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.

"A civil case is not the appropriate vehicle for taking issue with what a prosecutor has done in the past or where he might be headed in the future", Jackson wrote. She noted in her ruling Friday that her opinion on this lawsuit shouldn't be read as her opinion in the criminal case.

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.

Manafort, 69, has pleaded not guilty to felony charges related to his work as an worldwide political consultant in Ukraine before joining Trump's campaign in March 2016.

Manafort's attorneys argue the May 2017 order by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein establishing the Mueller probe is so broad that it violates a department regulation that they contend requires a "specific factual description" of the matter to be investigated. An unclassified memo from Rosenstein to Mueller last summer further details how investigators could pursue allegations that Manafort committed crimes related to his work for former Ukrainian government officials, and during the Trump campaign by colluding with Russian officials to influence the election.

Defendants in criminal cases are generally not permitted to use civil cases to challenge their prosecutions, and the judge expressed deep skepticism when she heard oral arguments at a hearing earlier this month. Initially, Manafort had asking Jackson to throw out all charges against him and nullify Mueller's appointment order in total. Daniel Schwei of the Justice Department's civil division argued that previous precedent should guide the judge to throw out the suit. "Therefore, the Court finds that this civil complaint must be dismissed".

The ruling does not affect the criminal proceedings against Manafort in Washington and Virginia.

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