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Judge: Special counsel had authority to prosecute Manafort

AP  |  Washington 

was working within his authority when he brought charges against Donald Trump's former campaign Paul Manafort, a in ruled today.

The decision was a setback for in his defence against charges of money-laundering conspiracy, false statements and acting as an unregistered foreign agent related to his Ukrainian political work. had argued that Mueller had exceeded his authority because the case was unrelated to Russian election interference.

But US disagreed. Citing Manafort's years of work in Ukraine, his prominent role on the Trump campaign and his publicised connections to Russian figures, Jackson said it was "logical and appropriate" for Mueller's team to scrutinise him as part of their investigation into Russian election meddling and possible coordination with Trump associates.

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

Peter Carr, a for the special counsel's office, declined to comment on the ruling. said, "maintains his innocence and looks forward to prevailing in this matter." In her 37-page ruling, Jackson went through a point-by-point rejection of Manafort's arguments, including his contention that Mueller had been given a "blank check" to investigate anything "he may stumble across." Jackson said Justice Department regulations allow for a "broad grant of authority" for special counsels.

And regardless, she wrote, it was clear that Mueller had been specifically authorised to investigate not only Manafort's possible links to but also his Ukrainian business.

She cited an August 2017 memo by that prosecutors had filed in the case. The memo shows Rosenstein specifically authorised Mueller to investigate payments Manafort received from the "before and during the tenure" of then-Viktor Yanukovych, who was one of Manafort's clients.

Jackson had previously thrown out a civil case Manafort brought challenging Mueller's authority. Her decision today allows one of two criminal cases against Manafort to proceed.

In addition to the indictment, Manafort also faces charges in of and tax evasion. The indictment accuses him of hiding tens of millions of dollars he earned advising pro-politicians in from 2006 through 2015. It also accuses him of fraudulently obtaining millions in loans from financial institutions including while he worked for the Trump campaign.

None of the charges against Manafort involve crimes related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Manafort has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.

Manafort has filed a similar motion to dismiss his charges in US TS has yet to rule on it. Ellis had previously grilled Mueller's team on whether the case was within his mandate and questioned whether they brought the case to get Manafort to testify against Trump.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 16 2018. 05:25 IST