The federal judge in Washington, D.C. overseeing the case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in the ongoing special counsel investigation has issued a ruling in favor of Robert Mueller today. Late last month, there was some question as to whether Manafort would be able to successfully challenge Mr. Mueller’s authority to file charges based on Manafort’s actions from years before the campaign, with Manafort arguing that Mueller was exceeding the scope of the investigation by looking at his financial activity from more than a decade ago.
Today, Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the indictment will stand:
“It bears emphasizing at this stage that Manafort is presumed to be innocent of these charges, and it will be the prosecution’s burden to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But the indictment will not be dismissed, and the matter will proceed to trial.”
In her ruling, Berman Jackson reasoned that because Manafort had lobbied on behalf of a Ukrainian president who was prominently pro-Russia, with seemingly endless Russian ties, the possibility that any connections to Russia that the Trump campaign may have availed themselves of during the campaign could easily have originated with Manafort himself — a conclusion that seems a likely path for Mueller to pursue as an avenue parallel to connections established by Lt. General Michael Flynn and the aide once dismissed by Team Trump as a mere “coffee boy,” George Papadopoulos.
Berman Jackson elaborated:
“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.”
Tuesday’s ruling against Manafort will, in the end, presumably weigh against Manafort in any final decision or sentencing. This is seemingly the final effort by Manafort’s legal team to have this indictment dismissed, and a not guilty plea going forward would almost certainly guarantee that Manafort spends the rest of his life in prison should he be convicted — which is more than likely, given the mountain of evidence against him.
That calculus should worry Donald Trump, as Manafort does have a family of his own. It’s hard to imagine that anyone could be loyal enough to a man like Trump to risk life in prison just to keep Trump out from behind bars himself.
Featured image via New Century Times Gallery