Judge tosses Manafort lawsuit challenging Mueller's authority

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Federal judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ), that sought to impede special counsel Robert S. Mueller's probe into Manafort's probable association with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections, on Friday.

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

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. He has made similar arguments in moving to dismiss the two criminal cases against him. She noted in her ruling Friday that her opinion on this lawsuit shouldn't be read as her opinion in the criminal case.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment.

In separate actions, Paul Manafort has moved to dismiss criminal charges he is scheduled to face in D.C. court in September and other federal tax-related charges he is scheduled to face in an Alexandria courtroom in July.

Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May; the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from matters related to the 2016 presidential campaign meant Rosenstein took over responsibility for the Russian Federation investigation.

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Jackson also called the prospect of additional charges against Manafort "purely speculative".

Manafort's lawyers dropped the bulk of their challenge in recent weeks, asking Jackson to nullify a paragraph in Mueller's appointment order. Daniel Schwei of the Justice Department's civil division argued that previous precedent should guide the judge to throw out the suit. The judge cited the "sound and well-established principle" that potential defendants can not "circumvent federal criminal procedure" that already permits individuals to challenge charges within criminal proceedings.

Manafort's civil lawsuit did not address a recently released memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that appears to undercut his argument that Mueller didn't have the authority to prosecute him.

The defense has focused on a provision that authorizes the special counsel to investigate possible collusion between Trump officials and the Russian government as well as "any matters that arose or may arise directly from" that investigation. "Therefore, the Court finds that this civil complaint must be dismissed".

She added that if Manafort's concerns would be more appropriately brought in a criminal case.

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