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New York court rules Manafort can't be prosecuted by Manhattan DA

New York court rules Manafort can't be prosecuted by Manhattan DA

New York state's top court ruled that the Manhattan district attorney's office can't prosecute Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortThere was Trump-Russia collusion — and Trump pardoned the colluder Treasury: Manafort associate passed 'sensitive' campaign data to Russian intelligence Hunter Biden blasts Trump in new book: 'A vile man with a vile mission' MORE, who served as former President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal GOP believes Democrats handing them winning 2022 campaign Former GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns MORE's top campaign aide in 2016, over mortgage fraud charges because of the state's double jeopardy rule.

Trump pardoned Manafort in December following his convictions on various federal fraud charges. Manafort was serving a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence.

Manafort was also charged by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who was seeking to head off the possibility that the longtime Republican political operative would receive a pardon.

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A state appeals court ruled in October that Vance's effort triggered the state's double jeopardy prohibition because of the overlap with the federal charges that Manafort had already been convicted of.

The ruling from the state's top court, which was dated Feb. 4 and first reported by The New York Times on Monday, puts an end to Vance's case.

Todd Blanche, Manafort's attorney, applauded the decision.

"As we have said from the time the District Attorney announced charges against Mr. Manafort, this is a case that should never have been brought because the dismissed indictment is a clear violation of New York law," Blanche said in an emailed statement. "As the trial court held, and the Appellate Division affirmed, the People’s arguments 'fall far short' of triggering an exception to double jeopardy that would justify this prosecution. We are pleased that the New York Court of Appeals saw no reason to give leave to the District Attorney to appeal the well-reasoned prior decision dismissing the indictment and the Appellate Division’s opinion affirming the same."

A spokesman for Vance's office declined to comment.

Vance began investigating Manafort in March 2017 and charged him two years later with mortgage fraud, alleging he had "falsified business records to illegally obtain millions of dollars."

Manafort was convicted by two separate federal courts for various fraud charges brought by the special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE.