Russian company indicted by Mueller says charge is baseless

Jeff Daniels plays FBI agent John O’Neil in The Looming Tower

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.

The charges before Judge Jackson arise out of Manafort's "lobbying and political consulting activities on behalf of Ukraine, the pro-Russia political party in Ukraine, and the former President of Ukraine who fled to Russian Federation in 2014".

Manafort's defense team argued Mueller didn't have the authority to file certain charges.

"The indictment falls 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, '" Jackson wrote on Tuesday.

Judge refuses to toss Manafort charges; another...

Manafort, who performed lobbying work for a pro-Russian former Ukrainian president before serving as Trump's campaign chairman in 2016, is facing two indictments brought by Mueller in federal courts in Washington and Alexandria, Virginia. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said, "Paul Manafort maintains his innocence and looks forward to prevailing in this matter".

The indictment said Concord was controlled by Russian businessman Evgeny Prigozhin, who US officials have said has extensive ties to Russia's military and political establishment.

Manafort and his lawyer's had argued Rosenstein acted improperly by appointing Mueller to investigate collusion with Russian Federation and "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation".

Berman Jackson previously dismissed a civil lawsuit Manafort had attempted to use to undercut Mueller's authority.

The special counsel's office declined to comment on Jackson's memorandum opinion. He was appointed to take over an existing investigation, and it appears from the chronology and the written record that the matters contained in the Superseding Indictment were already a part of the ongoing inquiry that was lawfully transferred to the Special Counsel by the Department of Justice in May of 2017.

To be clear, nothing in Jackson's decision is especially surprising - Manafort's challenge to Mueller's authority was always a long shot that was unlikely to prevail.

Manafort also faces a separate set of bank fraud and other financial charges in Virginia.

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