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Published On: Fri, May 4th, 2018

Judge in Paul Manafort case attacks Mueller team looking for a ‘lead to Trump,’ asks for scope letter

A federal judge on Friday criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal case in Virginia against President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and openly questioned whether Mueller exceeded his prosecutorial powers by bringing it.

“I don’t see what relationship this indictment has with anything the special counsel is authorized to investigate,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in the Eastern District of Virginia said.

photo/ donkeyhotey

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud,” Ellis said to prosecutor Michael Dreeben, at times losing his temper.

Ellis said prosecutors were interested in Manafort because of his potential to provide material that would lead to Trump’s “prosecution or impeachment,” Ellis said. “That’s what you’re really interested in,” said Ellis, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

The judge attacked the investigation, claiming Mueller should not have “unfettered power” in his Russia probe and that the charges against Manafort did not arise from the investigation into Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election..

“We don’t want anyone in this country with unfettered power. It’s unlikely you’re going to persuade me the special prosecutor has power to do anything he or she wants,” Ellis told Dreeben. “The American people feel pretty strongly that no one has unfettered power.”

Ellis asked to review an unredacted copy of a memo from last August, in which Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein authorized Mueller to investigate crimes related to Manafort’s Ukraine work. Mueller’s team revealed the memo’s existence in court filings, but the vast majority of it is redacted.

The memo must point to a specific crime to justify investigation into Trump and his campaign.

Manafort is facing charges in both Virginia and Washington. The Virginia case charges him with offenses including tax and bank fraud.

The other case in Washington accuses him of conspiring to launder money and failing to register as a foreign agent when he lobbied for the pro-Russia Ukrainian government.

None of the charges relate, however, to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign or possible collusion with Russia. Manafort’s attorney Kevin Downing has argued that the charges must dismissed because the FBI investigation dates back to 2014, and therefore did not arise from Mueller’s probe.

Trump has denied any collusion.

 

About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professional in 2008 on sites like Examiner and blogs: Desk of Brian, Crazed Fanboy. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) will be a licensed Assembly of God Pastor by the Spring of 2017. "Why do we do this?" I was asked and the answer is simple. "I just want the truth. I want a source of information that tells me what's going and clearly attempts to separate opinion from fact. Set aside left and right, old and young, just point to the world and say, 'Look!'" To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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