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Judge denies Manafort's motion to dismiss indictment

Judge denies Manafort's motion to dismiss indictment
© Anna Moneymaker

A federal judge on Tuesday declined to dismiss the case brought against former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortManafort appears in wheelchair at court hearing Manafort to be sentenced in Virginia in February Former FBI agent sentenced to 4 years in jail for leaking to reporter MORE in Virginia.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III denied Manafort's motion in a court filing, finding no merit in Manafort's argument that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE did not have authority to charge him with a crime.

Manafort was ordered to jail earlier this month for allegedly violating the terms of his bail agreement by attempting to tamper with witnesses in Mueller's probe.

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Ellis rejected Manafort's assertion that Mueller exceeded the bounds of his intended scope when he charged the former Trump aide with a slew of financial-related crimes regarding his lobbying work for pro-Russia political parties in Ukraine, and unrelated to the campaign.

Mueller, Ellis wrote, is not limited to investigating "federal crimes concerning election interference or collusion."

Manafort is charged with money laundering, bank fraud and failing to register as a foreign lobbyist. His trial date is scheduled for July 24 in Virginia, and he also faces charges in Washington, D.C., in a case scheduled to go to trial in September.

The former Trump campaign chairman is accused of running a scheme along with a former business associate, Richard Gates, to hide money made from lobbying activities in Ukraine from U.S. authorities by disguising the payments as loans from offshore U.S. entities. Mueller's team of prosecutors also alleges that Manafort and Gates were involved in a plot to fraudulently secure "more than twenty million dollars in loans,” according to the indictment.

Manafort also faces a forfeiture claim related to the charges that could cost him as much as $30 million, calling upon him to forfeit “any property, real or personal, which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the offense(s) of conviction” upon conviction.

Gates pleaded guilty earlier this year to the charges against him, while Manafort has denied any wrongdoing. 

The White House has sought to downplay Manafort's role in the Trump campaign.

Former White House press secretary Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerGuilfoyle says she'd be open to White House job if Trump asks Cramer's comments on Kavanaugh allegations under scrutiny in close N. Dakota race Spicer: Press have 'a personal animus' against Trump administration MORE referred to Manafort as someone “who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time" on the campaign during a press briefing last year, noting that Manafort was on the campaign for “just under five months."

Still, Manafort's attorneys say they worry his association to the president will taint jurors' views, and earlier this month asked a judge to bar any mention of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE from the Virginia court proceedings.