US Judge Says Mueller Prosecutes Manafort Only to Get to Trump

Aaron Brown
May 5, 2018

The two-page filing doesn't offer much in the way of details, but each subpoena orders the recipient to appear at the federal courthouse in Alexandria on July 10 at 10 testify at Manafort's trial on charges stemming from Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The tax charges against Manafort had to be brought in Virginia, though, for jurisdictional reasons.

Robert Mueller previous year brought tax and bank fraud charges against Paul Manafort, the first indictment in the Russian Federation investigation.

Ellis did not immediately rule on Manafort's motion to dismiss the Virginia indictment.

But Ellis ordered that prosecutors give him the full memo within two weeks, saying he'll determine whether the explanation of why Manafort was under investigation is adequate.

Manafort pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, tax and fraud charges. Both indictments center largely around Manafort's lobbying work for the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian interests.

"Your argument is that this is the scope of the investigation but we really didn't mean it and we weren't required to disclose it", Ellis said.

When Michael Dreeben of the special counsel's office said the charges against Manafort fell under Mueller's original mandate, Ellis asked, "The scope covers bank fraud from 2005?"

"You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud", Ellis told Dreeben. "You really care about what information he might give you about Mr. Trump and what might lead to his impeachment or prosecution".

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Ellis later quipped: "The vernacular is 'to sing'".

Despite the intense questioning, Ellis did not issue an immediate ruling on Manafort's case.

The request comes a week after a judge tossed out a civil lawsuit filed by Manafort that had challenged Mueller's authority. Breeden said the Manafort case is different. "And appropriately so, otherwise those who make the big decisions get away with it, while lower-level people serve time in jail".

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, echoed that view.

"It is well-established that it is beyond a judge's authority to inquire into, or second-guess, a prosecutor's exercise of charging discretion unless there is some evidence that the prosecutor based the decision on improper factors", Whiting said.

"The American people feel pretty strongly about no one having unfettered power".

Mueller was appointed by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. Gates also worked on the Trump campaign.

"Come on, man!" Ellis said. "He could ignore that, or he could bring charges". "The question now is whether or not the judge agrees Mueller was authorized to charge him". "None of that information has to do with information related to the Russian government coordination and the campaign of Donald Trump". 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.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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