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

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A federal judge in Virginia on Friday expressed deep skepticism that charges against former Trump campaign manager Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortMueller requests 70 blank subpoenas in Manafort case Preet Bharara weighs in on report of Cohen wiretap Ex-Trump aide who cursed Senate Intel probe meets with Mueller team MORE are genuinely related to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE's investigation into alleged collusion with Russian Federation, according to multiple reports.

District Judge T.S. Ellois said he believed that Mueller's motivation is to oust President Donald Trump from office.

"You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud", Ellis, who was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan, told prosecutor Michael Dreeben.

"C'mon, man", he said at one point in the hearing, according to Fox News.

Ellis also hypothesized several times that Mueller's team brought charges against Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates in order to push them to turn over information on the Trump campaign. The judge told prosecutors that they "don't really care" about Manafort and the charges they brought against him. Manafort also faces charges in DC Federal court where he was first indicted last fall. The other case accuses him of conspiring to launder money and failing to register as a foreign agent when he lobbied for the pro-Russia Ukrainian government.

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Gates initially planned to fight the charges against him, but he pleaded guilty on February 23 and has been cooperating with Mueller. The Obama Justice Department investigated Manafort back in 2014 but decided not to bring charges. He suggested the real reason Mueller is pursuing Manafort is to pressure him to provide evidence against Trump. Manafort's team has denied he conspired or colluded with any Russian intelligence or government officials.

He also asked the special counsel's office to share privately with him a copy of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein's August 2017 memo elaborating on the scope of Mueller's Russian Federation probe.

On April 30, Manafort's lawyers filed court papers in the Virginia case asserting Mueller's team has said it does not have communications or intercepts of any conversations Manafort had with Russian officials.

The Virginia case is scheduled for trial in July.

"I'm not saying it's illegitimate", Ellis said.

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