In a blow to Manafort's defense, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Mueller's prosecution of the longtime political consultant on charges of money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent for a Ukrainian political party was "squarely" within the authority that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein granted to Mueller last May. The ruling clears the way for a trial in September. Berman Jackson wrote. "Given the combination of his prominence within the campaign and his ties to Ukrainian officials supported by and operating out of Russia, as well as to Russian oligarchs, Manafort was an obvious person of interest". "But the indictment will not be dismissed, and the matter will proceed to trial", Berman Jackson wrote in her opinion Tuesday.
"The Special Counsel would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious potential link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government", she said.
Third, Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had broad authority to "authorize the Special Counsel to investigate not only 'links and/or coordination, ' but also, 'any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.'" So even if the charges against Manafort were not sufficiently tied to Russian Federation, they could still potentially proceed under the remainder of the powers delegated to Mueller.
In response to the ruling, Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said: "Paul Manafort maintains his innocence and looks forward to prevailing in this matter".
Jackson had previously thrown out a civil case Manafort brought challenging Mueller's authority.
The special counsel's office declined to comment on Jackson's memorandum opinion. He has pleaded not guilty in that case, as well as in the charges that included bank fraud and tax fraud that were brought against him in Virginia.
Mr Rosenstein "expressly approved the special counsel's investigation of the facts alleged in the indictment, so there has been no violation of the regulations, and the special counsel did not act without authority", wrote judge Jackson, who was appointed by Democratic president Barack Obama. The Virginia federal judge, TS Ellis, has not yet ruled on the question.
"What they address is who decides who the prosecutor will be", she said.
Jackson's ruling also offered support to the Justice Department regulations that gave rise to Mueller's appointment to lead the Russian Federation investigation.
The cases are U.S. v. Manafort, 18-cr-83, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria), and U.S. v. Manafort, 17-cr-201, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).