A Federal judge castigated the Mueller team in strong language when they brought charges against Paul Manafort.
If you think the Mueller team is giving themselves authority to do anything they want, you are not alone. A federal judge agrees with you and made that clear in the most unambiguous language possible. Furthermore, he demanded to see the unredacted “scope memo” which the Justice Department has been refusing to provide to Congress.
Reuters reports, “U.S. judge says Mueller should not have ‘unfettered power’ in Russia probe.”
At a tense hearing in a federal court in Virginia on Friday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III sharply questioned whether Mueller exceeded his authority in filing tax and bank fraud charges against Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
Ellis said the indictment appeared to be a way for Mueller to leverage Manafort into providing information about Trump.
“The vernacular is to sing,” he said.
“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” the judge said. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead to Mr. Trump” and his eventual prosecution or impeachment.
“It’s unlikely you’re going to persuade me the special counsel has unfettered power to do whatever he wants,” Ellis, who was appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan, said at a hearing on Manafort’s motion to dismiss the Virginia charges.
Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign manager for five months, also faces federal charges in Washington, where he is accused of conspiring to launder money and failing to register as a foreign agent when he lobbied for the pro-Russia Ukrainian government.
I can’t find any in the mainstream media that report that the judge accused the Mueller investigation of lying. But Fox News reports, “Federal judge accuses Mueller’s team of ‘lying,’ trying to target Trump: ‘C’mon man!’”
The special counsel argues that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein granted them broad authority in his May 2, 2017 letter appointing Mueller to this investigation. 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,” he said.
Mueller’s team says its authorities are laid out in documents including the August 2017 scope memo – and that some powers are actually secret because they involve ongoing investigations and national security matters that cannot be publicly disclosed.
Ellis seemed amused and not persuaded.
He summed up the argument of the Special Counsel’s Office as, “We said this was what [the] investigation was about, but we are not bound by it and we were lying.”
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