Federal Judge In Manafort Trial Scolds Mueller Prosecutors Over Their Actual Motivation

Matt Rourke  AP
Matt Rourke AP
Author

05 May, 2018

A federal judge presiding over the Paul Manafort case has expressed skepticism over what prosecutors in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office are really after in bringing criminal charges against the businessman.

Add Russia Investigation as an curiosity to remain updated on the most recent Russia Investigation information, video, and evaluation from ABC Information. They also said they had additional authority that they could not disclose in the courtroom because it related to ongoing investigations and could affect national security. But he has yet to be charged by the special counsel for anything related to Russia's interference in the 2016 election to prop up Trump's candidacy.

Among the many topics Trump would cover, it is notable that he made reference to an incident that took place in a Virginia court earlier in the day at a hearing in the Paul Manafort case. The indictment consists of prices of cash laundering and tax evasion, amongst an inventory of accusations stemming from the particular counsel's probe into Russian meddling within the 2016 election.

Why is Manafort in court?

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In federal court in the District of Columbia, Judge Amy Jackson has already tossed out a lawsuit seeking to bar the special counsel from bringing any future charges against Manafort.

The judge suggested the real reason Mueller is pursuing Manafort is to pressure him to "sing" against the president, though he also acknowledged that such a strategy is a "time-honored practice" for prosecutors.

"I don't see what relationship this indictment has with anything the special counsel is authorized to investigate", the judge said.

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Government lawyer Michael Dreeben argued that Mueller's mandate is broad, and that Manafort fits within that jurisdiction because of his ties to both the Trump campaign and to Ukrainian and Russian officials.

Ellis proposed that this was because prosecutors had decided that the Cohen case did not "further our core effort to get Trump". He asked the special counsel's office to share privately with him a copy of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein's August 2017 memo elaborating on the scope of Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

Legal experts questioned the judge's comments.

Whether Manafort colluded with Russian government officials as Russia was trying to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election.

"This indictment didn't arise from your investigation", Ellis said. Several times during the hearing he told short asides about his long tenure on the bench.

Ellis appeared receptive, at least in part, to the argument.

"We are not operating with unfettered power", Breeden replied. Breeden said the Manafort case is different.

"What we don't want in this country, we don't want anyone with unfettered power", he said.


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