Judge questions Justice Department motives in Manafort indictment

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Ellis said the indictment appeared to be a way for Mueller to leverage Manafort into providing information about Trump.

Judge T.S. Ellis III's comments came during a hearing in Alexandria federal court, where attorneys for Paul Manafort argued that bank- and tax-fraud charges against him are outside the scope of the special counsel's authority.

One source told the AP and CNN that Barrack was mainly asked about Rick Gates and Paul Manafort, who have both been indicted by Mueller.

Mueller is torturing Manafort through these indictments without appropriate authority.

Manafort pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, tax and fraud charges. The charges filed earlier this year include conspiring against the United States, conspiring to launder money, failing to register as an agent of a foreign principal and providing false statements.

Barrack was interviewed as part of the federal investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation in the 2016 election, according to three people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations...

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 can not be publicly disclosed. "You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud". "You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever".

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"I think that Bob Mueller will prevail in the sense of being able to go forward with this litigation", Schiff said. There have been a series of internal Department of Justice violations before this thing began.

Dreeben told him the redacted portions did not pertain to the Manafort case.

"It is well-established that it is beyond a judge's authority to inquire into, or second-guess, a prosecutor's exercise of charging discretion unless there is some evidence that the prosecutor based the decision on improper factors", Whiting said. It's that simple. It's not an investigation, it's a hunt, and Trump is the hunted.

Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben did not respond specifically to the judge's assertions in court.

Trump bemoaned that he was the victim of a "phony Russian Federation witch hunt" and said the news story vindicated his position. The interview lasted about two hours, the source said. "He could ignore that, or he could bring charges". As least as to the portion revealed about Manafort, it shows a willingness to give post hoc justification for conduct of Mueller that does not appear authorized by the text of the original May 17 appointing Order.

Mueller's investigators have interviewed dozens of witnesses in the probe into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. Ellis questioned how Mueller could prosecute financial crimes dating back a decade but not accuse Manafort of crimes related to the election.

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