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 ManafortTrial of ex-Obama White House counsel suddenly postponed Top Mueller probe prosecutor to join Georgetown Law as lecturer DOJ releases notes from official Bruce Ohr's Russia probe interviews 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 (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report 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 SpicerOvernight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador Trump taps Sean Spicer to join Naval Academy board of visitors Trump falsely claims his events have never 'had an empty seat' 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 TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE from the Virginia court proceedings.