Federal judge dismisses Manafort civil suit against Mueller

Manafort loses effort to challenge Mueller's authority

A federal judge on Friday tossed out former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's lawsuit challenging the scope of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

"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", Jackson wrote in her memorandum and opinion.

Manafort faces two indictments accusing him of conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failing to register as a foreign agent for lobbying work he did for the pro-Russia government of Ukraine, bank fraud and other offenses.

Manafort, one of 22 individuals and entities charged by Mueller so far, has pleaded not guilty. It was the first of Manafort's challenges to Mueller's authority.

Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May; the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from matters related to the 2016 presidential campaign meant Rosenstein took over responsibility for the Russian Federation investigation.

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Jackson hinted last week that the searches could be challenged on those grounds. But his lawyer later scaled back the relief being sought, saying he only wanted to prevent future charges from being filed against Manafort. They also asked Jackson to issue an order protecting Manafort from future prosecutions by Mueller. The Justice Department had moved for dismissal of the lawsuit. The judge cited the "sound and well-established principle" that potential defendants can not "circumvent federal criminal procedure" that already permits individuals to challenge charges within criminal proceedings. She cited earlier federal appeals court rulings that found that the subject of a criminal investigation could not bring a civil lawsuit to try to stop possible future charges.

Manafort's attorneys argue the May 2017 order by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein establishing the Mueller probe is so broad that it violates a department regulation that they contend requires a "specific factual description" of the matter to be investigated.

Manafort's attorneys had initially asked Jackson to throw out all charges against Manafort, arguing that Mueller had exceeded his authority by bringing charges unrelated to Russian election interference.

Jackson also oversees Manafort's criminal case in Washington.

The decision undercuts Manafort's attempt to challenge the special counsel Robert Mueller's authority in the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

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