Trials & Litigation

Judge tosses Manafort's suit challenging 'unmoored' jurisdiction grant to Mueller

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Paul Manafort/Mark Reinstein (

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has tossed a lawsuit filed by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort challenging the broad grant of jurisdiction given to special counsel Robert Mueller.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Friday against Manafort, who has been indicted on charges of money laundering and tax fraud in the special counsel probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. BuzzFeed News and the National Law Journal have stories.

Manafort had argued the May 2017 order appointing Mueller improperly gave him the power to investigate matters that are “unmoored” to an investigation of links between the Russian government and the presidential campaign. Manafort later narrowed the relief sought and was no longer asking the court to dismiss his indictment.

Instead, he was seeking to invalidate part of the order giving the special counsel the authority to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” He was also seeking an order enjoining future exercise of authority by the special counsel that was outside the scope of his power.

Despite the narrowed claims, Jackson said, Manafort’s claims must be addressed in his criminal cases.

“A civil case is not the appropriate vehicle for taking issue with what a prosecutor has done in the past or where he might be headed in the future,” she said. “It is a sound and well-established principle that a court should not exercise its equitable powers to interfere with or enjoin an ongoing criminal investigation when the defendant will have the opportunity to challenge any defects in the prosecution in the trial or on direct appeal.”

Jackson also said it’s not clear there is a current case or controversy.

“The only aspect of this case that is left standing is Manafort’s effort to forestall unspecified and as yet unknown future developments in the special counsel investigation, and a claim of that nature, where the harm is purely speculative, raises significant standing and ripeness issues,” she wrote.

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