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Judge rules Paul Manafort can’t be tried on charges pardoned by former President Trump

Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at US District Court on June 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. – A judge revoked Manafort’s bail and sent him to jail over claims he was tampering with witnesses in the case against him brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (Reuters) — New York state’s highest court has rejected the Manhattan district attorney’s effort to prosecute Paul Manafort, the onetime campaign chairman for former U.S. President Donald Trump.

The decision by the Court of Appeals ends Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s attempt to pursue Manafort on 16 felony charges, including mortgage fraud, that were similar to crimes for which Manafort had been convicted in federal court and pardoned by Trump.

Vance had been appealing a 4-0 ruling in October by an intermediate-level state appeals court that prosecuting Manafort violated state double jeopardy laws, or trying someone twice for the same conduct.

A spokesman for Vance on Monday declined to comment on the Court of Appeals’ Feb. 4 order, which let stand the indictment’s dismissal.

Manafort’s lawyer Todd Blanche told Reuters he was pleased.

“This is a case that should never have been brought because the dismissed indictment is a clear violation of New York law,” he said.

Manafort worked on Trump’s White House campaign for five months in 2016.

Vance announced Manafort’s indictment in March 2019, less than an hour after a judge sentenced Manafort to 7-1/2 years in prison on federal tax evasion and bank fraud charges.

The federal case stemmed from former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Trump pardoned Manafort on Dec. 23, seven months after he was released to home confinement.

Manafort’s lawyers had said he faced health risks, including from possibly contracting the coronavirus, in prison.


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