U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson has dismissed a lawsuit filed in January by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. In his suit, Manafort claimed that the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller was illegal. It also charged that Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein exceeded the scope of their authority and violated Justice Department regulations when they filed charges against Manafort related lobbying work he did for pro-Russia political parties in Ukraine. Charges were also brought against his business associate, Richard Gates, and include multiple felonies like conspiracy, bank and tax fraud, and money laundering. Gates pleaded guilty earlier this year. Paul Manafort’s suit was an attempt to stop future charges against him. In her decision, the judge stated,
“It is a sound and well-established principle that a court should not exercise its equitable powers to interfere with or enjoin an ongoing criminal investigation when the defendant will have the opportunity to challenge any defect in the prosecution in the trial court or on direct appeal. Therefore, the Court finds that this civil complaint must be dismissed.”
She added that her decision should in no way be viewed as an expression of her opinion on any of the charges.
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. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges as well and has challenged Mueller’s authority in them according to The Hill.
Manafort served as Trump’s campaign chairman from March to August in 2016. In the suit that was dismissed today, Manafort’s attorney Kevin M. Downing stated that Robert Mueller overstepped the boundaries of his investigation because Paul Manafort’s Ukraine dealings were on behalf of Ukraine’s pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych and ended before 2014, long before Manafort became involved in Trump’s campaign. Prosecutors defend their actions by stating that because he was both his position as a top campaign official for Donald Trump and his lengthy involvement with Russian-backed individuals of power warranted an investigation into whether any of those relationships were used as “back channels” or for “surreptitious communications” according to the Washington Post. They cite a provision that allowed special counsel to investigate possible collusion between officials of Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from” their investigation. Paul Manafort’s attorneys argued against the “blank check” they say this provision created.