Judge dismisses 16-count indictment against Paul Manafort

(File photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Citing double jeopardy laws, a New York state judge dismissed a 16-count indictment against President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The ruling comes the day the Democrat-run House of Representatives is expected to approve along party lines two articles of impeachment against Trump and serves as a reminder that it’s not just the president under siege, but many of those associated with him.

Judge Maxwell Wiley said the criminal case brought against Manafort by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. was too similar to a case that has already had him in federal prison, the Associated Press reported.

Manafort is currently serving a seven-and-a-half-year stint at Federal Correctional Institution Loretto in Loretto, Pennsylvania, for financial crimes as a result of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion investigation.

Mueller charged the ex-Trump aide with tax evasion and violating federal lobbying laws by concealing millions earned representing Ukrainian political figures.

“Given the rather unique set of facts pertaining to the defendant’s previous prosecution in federal court, and given New York’s law on this subject, defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment as barred by state double jeopardy must be granted,” Wiley wrote in his decision, according to CNBC.

Wednesday’s dismissal is considered a major blow to Vance, according to the network, as Vance’s case was seen as a way to thwart a possible presidential pardon by Trump — presidents can issue pardons for federal crimes, but not state crimes.

Vance, a Democrat, will appeal the decision, according to a spokesman.

The spokesman said, “We will appeal today’s decision and will continue working to ensure that Mr. Manafort is held accountable for the criminal conduct against the People of New York that is alleged in the indictment.”

Manafort’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, said the indictment “was politically motivated and violated New York’s statutory double jeopardy law.”

“We thank Judge Wiley for his careful consideration of our motion and his thoughtful opinion dismissing the charges against Mr. Manafort,” Blanche said. “This indictment should never have been brought, and today’s decision is a stark reminder that the law and justice should always prevail over politically-motivated actions.”

Manafort, 70, was admitted to the hospital last week while in prison after reportedly suffering a heart ailment and was not in court.

Blanche said the family was “extremely concerned about his health and still do not have a full understanding of his medical condition or well-being.”

He also questioned the Bureau of Prison’s handling of the incident.

“Neither his family nor I were made aware of his medical condition,” he claimed, “until after a reporter called with information they had learned about his condition, notwithstanding repeated attempts on our part to obtain information over the past several days from the Bureau of Prisons.”

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Tom Tillison

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