Special Counsel Bob Mueller leveled charges against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort in federal courts in both D.C. and Virginia. Together, the two cases span 30 charges. The latest development in the D.C. case proves just how unlikely Manafort’s attempt to get the Virginia charges dropped is to succeed. Instead, he’ll likely to have to defend himself in two districts.
In both cases, Manafort’s argued that Mueller exceeded the scope of his authority. Manafort refused to allow the cases to be consolidated in D.C., where he faces money-laundering and illegal lobbying charges, in hopes that his argument would fare better in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. We could think of it, albeit imprecisely, as splitting, in Black Jack terms.
Unfortunately for Manafort, while the Virginia judge indicated he’s receptive to the jurisdictional argument, he was careful to say he’s not decided either way. Problem for Manafort is that the judge’s tirade signaling his hostility to Mueller’s case probably constituted reversible error; an adverse ruling isn’t likely to hold up on appeal.
Now, the District Court for the District of Columbia’s judge Amy Berman Jackson has not just eviscerated Manafort’s argument but done so in an extensive, extremely quotable salvo equally applicable to his Virginia case.
Judge Berman Jackson notes that even if “a judge” ruled that Manafort can challenge the scope of Mueller’s authority based on Special Counsel Regulations, which are internal to the Department of Justice and not something Manafort can sue under, those Regulations still don’t help Manafort.
[T]he Acting Attorney General … exercised his statutory authority to authorize the Special Counsel to investigate not only “links and/or coordination,” but also, “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Manafort seems likely to end up fighting charges in two jurisdictions in separate proceedings, which’s gotta be less cost and time efficient, especially if he’s bringing lawyers in from D.C. for every appearance. On the other hand, it could buy him time if his backup goal is to prolong the proceedings as long as possible.