Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Tuesday rejected former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's attempt to invalidate the criminal case against him in Washington.
Even if the charges arose from the challenged authority grant, Manafort can't win dismissal of the indictment because the Justice Department regulations regarding the appointment of special counsel don't create substantive rights for individuals under investigation, Jackson said.
Manafort is scheduled for trial in DC in September. Separately, a judge in Virginia is weighing a similar request to dismiss a tax- and bank-fraud case against him there.
Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni issued a statement in response to the ruling.
Manafort's attorneys have argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein acted improperly when he appointed Mueller in May 2017 to investigate not only collusion with Russian Federation but any other issues that "may arise" from that investigation.
"The special counsel would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious potential link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government", Jackson wrote.
"It bears emphasizing at this stage that Manafort is presumed to be innocent of these charges, and it will be the prosecution's burden to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt". "But the indictment will not be dismissed, and the matter will proceed to trial".
Jackson said it was "logical and appropriate" for investigators to probe Manafort's dealings with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted by street protests in 2014 and now lives in exile in Russian Federation.
The judge ruled the indictment "falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel", the publication reports.
"Frankly, the president has been victimized through all this", Fitton told Fox News, "because evidently there is nothing to justify an investigation of him requiring Justice Department resources and authorities the way it's been misused to date".
Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben had defended the investigation, arguing last month in the District that prosecutors would naturally want to scrutinize Manafort's long-standing ties to Russian-backed politicians, financiers and others and whether any served as "back channels to Russia". That memo explicitly gave Mueller authority to probe all of Manafort's Ukraine-related work predating the 2016 campaign.