Judge: Mueller can prosecute Manafort

Special counsel Robert Mueller was working within his authority when he brought charges against President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a federal judge in Washington ruled Tuesday.

"First, the indictment falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel that Manafort finds unobjectionable: the order to investigate 'any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign, '" she continued.

"Paul Manafort maintains his innocence and looks forward to prevailing in this matter", his spokesman, Jason Maloni, said in an email.

The special counsel's office declined to comment on Jackson's memorandum opinion.

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 charges Manafort faces in D.C. include money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

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In response to these charges, Manafort claimed that he could not be prosecuted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller because the particular charges against him are outside of Mueller's properly delegated authority. The charges against Manafort relate to his decade of work as a political consultant to Ukrainian politicians. 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". He has also argued that Mr Mueller's case against him has nothing to do with Russian interference in 2016 election, and that the probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into his Ukraine dealings predates the Russia probe. On Tuesday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, one of the two judges hearing the cases against Manafort, rejected these arguments.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia.

Mr Trump has denied that his campaign colluded with Russian Federation and called the probe that has dogged his presidency a "witch hunt".

Jackson's ruling also offered support to the Justice Department regulations that gave rise to Mueller's appointment to lead the Russian Federation investigation.

"It's unlikely you're going to persuade me the special counsel has unlimited powers to do anything her or she wants", he added. US District Judge T.S. Ellis III has yet to rule on it. Ellis had previously grilled Mueller's team on whether the case was within his mandate and questioned whether they brought the case to get Manafort to testify against Trump. That memo explicitly gave Mueller authority to probe all of Manafort's Ukraine-related work predating the 2016 campaign.