Federal judge dismisses Manafort civil suit against Mueller

Federal judge dismisses Manafort civil suit against Mueller

April 27 (UPI) — A federal judge dismissed a civil lawsuit Friday filed by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, which challenged Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s authority to charge him in a criminal case.

Manafort disputed Mueller’s authority to charge him with crimes outside the scope of his role as President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman.

The suit said Mueller’s probe is overly broad and impermissible by Justice Department regulations.

Mueller was assigned by the Justice Department last May to investigate potential Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

Charges against Manafort, which include his work as a lobbyist for pro-Russian political parties in Ukraine, were outside the scope of Mueller’s authority, Manafort’s lawyers argued. Their case rested on their belief that the special investigator had exceeded his responsibility.

Washington, D.C., U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, though, decided Friday that a civil suit is not the appropriate avenue to dispute Mueller’s charges.

“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,” her ruling said. “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 court trial or on direct appeal.”

Manafort and business associate Richard Gates are charged in two criminal cases with hiding millions of dollars earned from lobbying efforts from U.S. authorities. Gates pleaded guilty in February. Manafort, who’s pleaded not guilty, will go to trial in September.

“Concerns regarding the Special Counsel’s investigation will be taken up in the criminal case,” Berman Jackson wrote.