A federal judge on Tuesday rejected an attempt by Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign chairman, to have an indictment against him dismissed by claiming that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s exceeded his authority. He also contended that his mandate is too broad and thus illegal under Department of Justice regulations, based on paragraph (b)(ii) of the Appointment order that grants Mueller the authority to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson decided that Mueller’s indictment of the longtime political consultant on charges of money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agent Registration Act because of his close lobbying ties with Ukraine was “squarely” within the authority that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein granted to Mueller last May.
“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.
“Manafort was, at one time, not merely ‘associated with,’ but the chairman of, the Presidential campaign, and his work on behalf of the Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record,” the judge added in her ruling. “It was logical and appropriate for investigators tasked with the investigation of ‘any links’ between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign to direct their attention to him.”
“Given the combination of his prominence within the campaign and his ties to Ukrainian officials supported by and operating out of Russia, as well as to Russian oligarchs, Manafort was an obvious person of interest,” she wrote. “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.”
Judge Jackson said Manafort’s arguments were not persuasive enough for her to dismiss the indictment. The judge stated that Manafort’s indictment arose directly from Mueller’s core focus of the investigation and not from an abuse or expansion of investigative authority. Jackson also decided that Manafort did not have standing to enforce special counsel regulations, as they are internal Department of Justice regulations and only those within or overseeing the Department of Justice could make that claim.
She also ruled that Rosenstein has validated the indictment with his continued consultation with and supervision of Mueller and his investigation.
A spokesman for Manafort did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.
Jackson, an appointee of President Barack Obama, has imposed a gag order limiting public comments by prosecutors, defense attorneys and Manafort.
In another set of indictments that has Manafort’s defense a lot more hopeful, Ronald Reagan appointed Judge T.S. Ellis III expressed much skepticism with Mueller’s authority to issue charges with no connection to the Russian collusion investigation. Mueller brought criminal charges against Manafort in Virginia centered on bank fraud, tax evasion, and failing to report foreign bank accounts dating over ten years before the Trump campaign was even formed.
Who is District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson?
Judge Jackson was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011 and received a 97-0 confirmation vote in the United States Senate. She presides over the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Before she was a district court judge, she was a defense attorney for William Jefferson in his corruption trial. He was a representative for Louisiana’s 2nd congressional from 1991 to 2009.
Her rulings since she was appointed in 2011 have been decidedly left and consistently in support of establishment players, especially those who are friendly to Democrat causes. She allowed the National Labor Relations Board to require most private businesses to provide materials informing workers of the process to form a union.
Jackson gave environmentalists a win when she supported an Environmental Protection Agency motion to veto a previously granted permit to a coal company. Jackson disagreed in her ruling, stating that the EPA veto was not — as coal supporters have long argued — an “about-face” by the agency, noting that EPA “did not drastically change its position” when it vetoed the permit in 2011.
Jackson ruled in December 2013 that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Washington, D.C. must cover birth control and abortifacients for its employees under the Affordable Care Act, despite the law’s violation of 1st amendment rights of religious organizations that the Supreme Court would later decide to strike.
She also just last year dismissed a wrongful death case against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, brought by the parents of two of the men killed in the Benghazi incident.
Given her previous leanings, it is no small wonder why Mueller has Judge Jackson presiding over his two biggest federal cases in the Russian collusion investigation.