A federal judge in Washington ruled Tuesday that special counsel Robert Mueller was working within his authority when he brought charges against President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman.
In a sharp rebuke of those claims, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had followed all the Justice Department's rules when he hired Mueller and Mueller's case against Manafort is not overly broad or improper.
Referring to Mueller's appointment order, she said that the charges fell "squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel that Manafort finds unobjectionable: the order to investigate 'any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign.' (Manafort had also challenged the provision of the appointment order that said that Mueller could investigate matters "that arose or may arise directly" from the probe)".
Rosenstein also had authority "to define the Special Counsel's charter broadly", and explicitly confirmed Mueller's authority to investigate Manafort's Ukrainian work in an August 2017 memo, she found.
In her 37-page ruling, Jackson went through a point-by-point rejection of Manafort's other arguments, including his contention that Mueller had been given a "blank check" to investigate anything "he may stumble across". Manafort's motion to dismiss the case Mueller brought against him in Virginia is still pending.
Manafort is facing criminal charges of charges of money-laundering conspiracy, false statements and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, speaks to the media with an announcement that the office of special counsel Robert Mueller says a grand jury has charged 13 Russian nationals and several Russian entities, February 16, 2018, in Washington. His trial is scheduled to start September 17. The charges against Manafort relate to his decade of work as a political consultant to Ukrainian politicians. Manafort has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.
Additionally, Jackson said that the Justice Department regulations created for special counsel investigations are not enforceable for defendants in court.
In the Virginia courthouse, Ellis sharply questioned prosecutors about their motivations and whether they had exceeded their charging authority to pressure Manafort to turn against Trump or colleagues.
Tuesday's opinion by Jackson was issued days after both sides argued a similar set of issues to dismiss charges before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III of Alexandria.