Published: Sun, May 06, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Judge to Mueller: Show Me the Mandate

Judge to Mueller: Show Me the Mandate

Dreeben said they had to "follow the money" and find Manafort's contacts with Russians through the Ukrainian work and his financial dealings as part of their investigation.

Ellis suggested that if he ruled in Manafort's favor, the case could simply be returned to the US attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The visible part of the memo says Mueller should investigate allegations about Manafort's financial relationship with former Ukrainian politicians, and that he may have assisted Russian Federation with attempts to interfere in the presidential election. This probe was then absorbed into the Mueller investigation.

Judge Ellis said. "What is really going on, it seems to me, is that this indictment is put pressure on Mr. Manafort, but in and of itself has noting to do with your [special counsel] appointment".

Freeman derives this observation from the news reports" "The judge is not just searching for an explanation as to how the Manafort prosecution relates to Russian Federation and the 2016 election.

"Bank fraud in 2005 and 2007?"

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".

"That's what you're really interested in", said Ellis, who was appointed in 1987 by Republican President Ronald Reagan and holds degrees from Princeton University, Harvard Law School and the University of Oxford. Ellis went on to say that defense lawyers are naturally concerned that defendants in that situation will not only sing but "compose" - meaning that they'll make up facts.

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Ellis also said that Mueller's team does not have "unfettered power". It's unlikely you're going to persuade me the special prosecutor has power to do anything he or she wants. "The American people feel pretty strongly that no one has unfettered power". He characterized their attitude as, "We said this was what [the] investigation was about, but we are not bound by it and we were lying".

The judge recommended that investigations into Manafort's alleged bank fraud should be turned over to the US Attorney's district office in Virginia. Manafort's attorney Downing indicated his support for such a move, which would end any leverage by the special counsel over his client.

In an August 2, 2017, memo, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein authorized Mueller to investigate whether Manafort "committed a crime or crimes arising out of payments he received from the Ukrainian government before and during the tenure of President Viktor Yanukovych". Dreeben told the judge that all sections of the memo related to Manafort have been publicly revealed.

Manafort faces five charges in the case brought by Mueller's prosecutors in DC federal court, including money laundering and foreign lobbying violations.

On Friday TS Ellis, a judge in the eastern district of Virginia, suggested that Mueller's real motivation for pursuing Manafort was to compel him to "sing" against Trump. Trial on those charges is tentatively set for September 17.

"He may tell you some interesting things", Ellis said.

He is also seeking to get the Washington-based criminal charges against him dismissed on similar legal grounds that were presented to the Virginia judge on Friday.

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