Trump Seizes On Judge's Pointed Questions To Bash Mueller's Team
- Author: Rogelio Becker May 05, 2018,
May 05, 2018, 1:19
Ellis, a Ronald Reagan appointee, challenged Mueller's team over whether the Virginia case arose out of its own investigation or whether it picked up on a previous investigation into Manafort's consulting work the US attorney's office in Alexandria conducted.
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.
He also asked the special counsel's office to share privately with him a copy of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein's August 2017 memo elaborating on the scope of Mueller's Russian Federation probe.
He also demanded to see the un-redacted memo outlining the scope of the Special Counsel's Russian Federation probe, which congressional Republicans have also sought.
On April 30, Manafort's lawyers filed court papers in the Virginia case asserting Mueller's team has said it does not have communications or intercepts of any conversations Manafort had with Russian officials. He pointed to an August 2 memo that said Manafort may have "committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials" to interfere in the election, and that he illegally handled payments he got from the pro-Russian Ukrainian government. But after the revelation that the team is using information from the earlier DOJ probe, Ellis said that information did not "arise" out of the special counsel probe - and therefore may not be within the scope of that investigation.
"We don't want anyone with unfettered power", Ellis said.
Downing has argued that the charges should be dismissed if Mueller lacked authority to bring them. The charges are outside the scope of Mueller's mandate to investigate any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government, Manafort's lawyers have argued. Ellis questioned how Mueller could prosecute financial crimes dating back a decade without charging Manafort for his election activities.
That challenge led Mueller's team to include a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the probe following Attorney General Jeff Sessions's recusal past year.
But Ellis apparently wasn't buying it, reportedly characterizing the special counsel's office's argument as: "We said this was what the investigation was about, but we are not bound by it, and we were lying".
"I'll be the judge of that", Ellis said.
Legal experts questioned the judge's comments. "We are operating within a framework of regulations".
After an interesting Friday morning, which included President Donald Trump saying that his new attorney Rudy Giuliani would be getting his "facts straight" on the Stormy Daniels payment (and Giuliani did attempt to do this in a statement), Trump made an appearance in Dallas, Texas at the NRA Convention. "Whether prosecutors brought the case to flip Manafort is entirely irrelevant".
Manafort has also been indicted in federal court in Washington, D.C. Both cases revolve around Manafort's work from 2005 through 2014 for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.