Trump Seizes On Judge's Pointed Questions To Bash Mueller's Team

Manafort is charged with tax and bank fraud.

The Virginia indictment alleges Manafort hid millions of dollars he earned as an adviser to pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine from the Internal Revenue Service before Donald Trump ran for president.

His lawyers made similar arguments seeking dismissal to the judge in Washington.

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

Dreeben said the investigations were "folded together with our overall examination of Mr. Manafort's conduct", and he was indicted based on information developed by Mueller as they followed the trail of money that left Ukraine. "You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever".

Manafort and his lawyers have mounted an aggressive defense in recent months.

Experts also pointed out that Mueller did what any other prosecutor would have done during the course of an investigation.

Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the 2016 race in his favor and whether Trump sought to obstruct justice when he fired FBI Director James Comey last May.

Manafort's lawyers argued at a hearing in Alexandria that the charges are far afield from Mueller's mandate to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether any collusion occurred.

The judge has given Mueller's team two weeks to produce the memo.

Prosecutors said Friday that their investigative powers were outlined both in Rosenstein's letter appointing Mueller in May and in the August memo.

"We don't need anybody with unfettered energy", Decide T.S. Ellis instructed Mueller's prosecutors Friday morning in an Alexandria, Va., courthouse, increasing his feedback to incorporate authorities extra broadly.

During Friday's hearing, U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis accused Mueller's team of lying about the scope of the Russian Federation investigation.

"When Mueller came across Manafort's illicit activities, he had two choices", Cramer said.

The judge's unusually provocative remarks and questions don't necessarily indicate how he will rule, but they put Mueller's team on the defensive.

The judge questioned why Manafort's case there could not be handled by the United States attorney's office in Virginia, rather than the special counsel's office.

Alex Whiting, a former federal prosecutor from Boston and Washington, DC, said as much.

"Whether the special counsel wants Manafort to flip is not relevant to the question of whether this indictment is within the scope of his jurisdiction", he wrote.

He added that he does not expect Ellis to use Mueller's motivation in bringing charges as the basis of any decision he makes, but that if he does, "he will be reversed". A trial date in the case is set for July 10.

  • Joey Payne