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Judge tosses out Manafort’s last-ditch effort to derail Mueller’s Russia probe

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Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has lost his last-ditch bid to derail special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The Associated Press reports that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has tossed out Manafort’s civil suit that challenged Mueller’s authority to charge him for crimes related to his work as a lobbyist for a Kremlin-connected Ukrainian politician.

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Manafort’s attorneys had argued that Mueller did not have the authority to pursue money-laundering charges against their client because those alleged criminal activities had nothing to do with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

However, the special counsel’s office produced evidence showing that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last year had specifically signed off on granting Mueller additional authority to pursue charges against Manafort.

In dismissing Manafort’s suit, Jackson allowed that the former Trump campaign chairman’s “concerns” about Mueller’s authority to bring charges against him could be addressed during his criminal trial.

Read the whole decision at this link.

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Trump accused of working to ‘obstruct his own impeachment’ by congressional attorneys: report

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On Wednesday, Politico reported that lawyers working for the House of Representatives issued a blistering court filing accusing President Donald Trump, among other things, of trying to use the power of his office to "obstruct his own impeachment."

The filing, part of the House Judiciary Committee's attempt to seek testimony from ex-White House Counsel Don McGahn, cites the White House's repeated efforts to block current and former Trump administration officials from testifying — and even some allies of Trump who have never held any position in his government.

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Trump told Rick Perry to ‘visit with Rudy’ when he asked why he called off meetings with Ukraine’s president: report

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On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Energy Secretary Rick Perry was ordered by President Donald Trump to get in touch with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani about "corruption" in Ukraine — at the same time that he and Giuliani were attempting to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help him dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

Speaking to the Journal, Perry denied knowing anything about Trump going after Biden specifically, but said the Trump told him he was not "comfortable" that the Ukrainians had "straightened up their act" — an apparent reference to Trump's belief that Ukraine tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election for Hillary Clinton.

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Sondland was going to testify Trump gave the impression they should coordinate with Giuliani on Ukraine: report

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European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland is slated to give testimony Thursday to the House committees on President Donald Trump's Ukraine scandal.

Sondland was slated to tell investigators that Trump gave him the impression that he and two other officials should coordinate with the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, The New York Times said in an explosive report Wednesday.

"That command effectively created a foreign policy back channel that cut the State Department and National Security Council out of deliberations involving a pivotal ally against Russia," The Times reported.

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