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Judge tosses Manafort civil suit challenging special counsel

30 April 2018

A federal judge on Friday dismissed former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's civil lawsuit challenging special counsel Robert Mueller's appointment, finding that Manafort couldn't sue to try to stop Mueller's office from taking action against him in the future.

A spokesman for Manafort, who is limited in what he can say due to a court-imposed media gag order, did not have any immediate comment on the judge's ruling. But his lawyer later scaled back the relief being sought, saying he only wanted to prevent future charges from being filed against Manafort.

Mr. Manafort is facing dozens of charges of money laundering, bank fraud, tax evasion and failing to register as a foreign agent in connection to work he did for years on behalf of Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine who was an ally of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russian Federation.

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In dismissing Manafort's suit, Jackson allowed that the former Trump campaign chairman's "concerns" about Mueller's authority to bring charges against him could be addressed during his criminal trial. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the special counsel charges.

Jackson hinted last week that the searches could be challenged on those grounds.

"This is a collateral civil challenge attacking a criminal prosecution", Schwei told the judge. The Justice Department had moved for dismissal of the lawsuit. 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.

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

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

The portions of the memo were made public in a court filing that responded to Manafort's motion to dismiss his criminal case in Washington, which is also before Jackson.

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Judge tosses Manafort civil suit challenging special counsel