Judge tosses Manafort lawsuit challenging Mueller's authority

Paul Manafort’s suit challenging Mueller’s Russia probe tossed

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort leaves Federal Court on Dec. 11 in Washington D.C

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.

Manafort's defense lawyers narrowed their civil complaint to ask U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia to enjoin any future actions under Mueller's appointment order leading the Russian Federation investigation.

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.

However, the special counsel's office produced evidence showing that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein a year ago had specifically signed off on granting Mueller additional authority to pursue charges against Manafort.

Manafort, 69, has pleaded not guilty to felony charges related to his work as an worldwide political consultant in Ukraine before joining Trump's campaign in March 2016.

In dismissing Manafort's lawsuit, Jackson did not address the substance of Manafort's arguments about Mueller's authority.

"A civil case is not the appropriate vehicle for taking issue with what a prosecutor has done in the past or where he might be headed in the future", Berman wrote, adding that Manafort will have the "opportunity to challenge any defects in the prosecution in the trial court or on direct appeal". In his suit, Manafort claimed that the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller was illegal.

The ruling does not affect the criminal proceedings against Manafort in Washington and Virginia.

Manafort served as Trump's campaign chairman from March to August in 2016.

In her decision, the judge stated that a court shouldn't "interfere with or enjoin an ongoing criminal investigation".

In addition to revealing that memo on Mueller's scope, Manafort's push against Mueller prompted prosecutors to reveal they found a link between Manafort's business and a person with Russian intelligence ties during the campaign, and were investigating his interactions with Russians in 2016 and possible campaign finance violations. Instead, she focused on whether he could bring a civil lawsuit raising those arguments and seeking future-looking relief at all. She noted in her ruling Friday that her opinion on this lawsuit shouldn't be read as her opinion in the criminal case. Manafort called for the court to declare Mueller's appointment "invalid" and for Mueller's actions as special counsel to be set aside.

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