losangelesnewstoday.com May 20, 2018

It Seems Mueller Just Doubled His Witness List For Manafort's Trial

05 May 2018, 01:33 | Katrina Lee

Manafort's co-defendant Rick Gates pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy and making a false

Special counsel Mueller seeks 70 subpoenas for witnesses for trial of former Trump campaign chief Manafort

A federal judge on Friday (May 4) sharply criticised Special Counsel Robert Mueller's criminal case in Virginia against President Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and openly questioned whether Mueller exceeded his prosecutorial powers by bringing it.

"I don't see what relation this indictment has with what the special counsel is authorized to investigate", U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III said at a hearing.

"You really care about getting information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment", Ellis added, according to The Washington Post.

Mueller overstepped his authority by charging Manafort with crimes unrelated to collusion with Russian Federation.

The longtime lobbyist has argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein overstepped, giving the special counsel's office a "blank check" to go after Manafort for conduct the Justice Department was investigating as early as 2014.

Manafort and Gates are just one of a number of people targeted by Mueller, who was originally tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"I'll be the judge of that", Ellis said.

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He is tasked with 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 James Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director last May. The tax charges against Manafort had to be brought in Virginia, though, for jurisdictional reasons. 'We are not separate from the Justice Department'. Manafort is also charged in Washington with money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent of Ukraine.

That challenge led Mueller's team to include a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the probe following Attorney General Jeff Sessions's recusal previous year.

Along with his former business associate Rick Gates, Manafort was initially indicted in October 2017 on multiple counts that included: conspiracy against the US, conspiracy to launder money, false statements and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

The letter also includes questions the senators have about Mr. Lutsenko's office allegedly preventing the issuing of subpoenas to collect evidence and interview witnesses in four open cases related to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

To Ellis, this logic amounted to the special counsel's office saying "We said this was what [the] investigation was about, but we are not bound by it and we were lying". The trail is set to begin on July 10, 2018.

At a May hearing, where Manafort's team sought to dismiss an 18-count indictment against him, a federal judge accused Mueller's team of targeting Manafort to get information to take down Trump. Nothing I want to do more, because we did nothing wrong.

Ellis is overseeing one of two indictments against Manafort.

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