Manafort Judge Asks If Mueller Overstepped His Authority

Manafort Judge Asks If Mueller Overstepped His Authority

A federal judge accused Special Counsel Robert Mueller of overstepping his authority during a court hearing for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

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Manafort attorney Kevin Downing argued that Mueller overstepped his May 2017 appointment order, which directed him to pursue links between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, as well as "any matter that arose or may arise directly" from the investigation.

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.

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During a hearing in which Manafort was seeking the dismissal of one of the two indictments against him in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling, Ellis speculated that prosecutors had charged him to get him to flip against Trump.

Under questioning from Ellis, government lawyers admitted that Manafort had been under investigation for years in the Eastern District of Virginia before Mueller was ever appointed special counsel.

At tense hearing at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, the judge said Mueller should not have "unfettered power" in his Russian Federation probe and that the charges against Manafort did not arise from the investigation into Moscow's alleged meddling in the 2016 United States election. "The question now is whether or not the judge agrees Mueller was authorized to charge him".

Instead, Ellis reportedly tried several times to have the Mueller lawyers say the charges were instead meant to have Manafort "sing", or testify, against Trump in some way.

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

Ellis withheld ruling on the motion and will issue a written decision at a later date.

"You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud", Ellis told Dreeben.

"This indictment didn't arise from your investigation", Ellis said.

The otherwise skeptical judge has not indicated whether he is inclined to dismiss the case against Manafort for jurisdictional reasons, asserting that "I'm not saying it's illegitimate".

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

"We don't want anyone in this country with unfettered power". Breeden said the Manafort case is different.

Echoing Cramer's view that prosecutors build cases all the time against powerful figures by prosecuting lower-level actors who then cooperate, Whiting said "most people would agree that's what we want prosecutors to do: focus their work on higher-level criminal actors".

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