United States judge greenlights Paul Manafort case to go forward

Yevgeny Prigozhin controls the company indicted on charges of conspiring to get Donald Trump elected.     Source Getty

Yevgeny Prigozhin controls the company indicted on charges of conspiring to get Donald Trump elected. Source Getty

Jackson added it was "logical and appropriate" for investigators tasked with pursuing any links to the Russian Federation investigation to direct their attention toward Manafort, due to his role in Trump's campaign.

In a court filing in Washington on May 14, the Concord consulting company headed by a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected Mueller's charge that it conspired to defraud the US government by funding a covert social media campaign during the 2016 presidential election aimed at helping get Republican Donald Trump elected president.

In both criminal cases, Manafort has asked the courts to dismiss the charges on the grounds that Rosenstein's May 17, 2017 appointment order hiring Mueller runs afoul of Justice Department rules on special counsels.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has "rejected the history and integrity of the DOJ, and instead licensed a Special Counsel who for all practical political purposes can not be fired, to indict a case that has absolutely nothing to do with any links or coordination between any candidate and the Russian Government", Concord wrote in its filing, echoing claims made by the Trump administration.

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"His work on behalf of the Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record", Jackson wrote. On Tuesday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, one of the two judges hearing the cases against Manafort, rejected these arguments. "Given what was being said publicly, the Special Counsel would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious potential link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government", Jackson wrote.

Following the release of Jackson's opinion, Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, said, "Paul Manafort maintains his innocence and looks forward to prevailing in this matter". "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.

As Judge Jackson explains, Manafort's challenge to Mueller's authority fails for four reasons.

Manafort pleaded not guilty to charges related to his lobbying work before 2014 on behalf of Ukraine's pro-Russian president at the time, Viktor Yanukovych. He faces a second set of charges in Virginia that include bank fraud and filing false tax returns.

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