Kirsters Baish| On Friday, a federal judge rebuked Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team while in the middle of a hearing for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The judge suggested that the team had lied regarding the scope of the investigation and are trying to achieve “unfettered power.” He also claimed that they are looking to bring down President Trump, even if that means compromising the integrity of the investigation.
United States District Judge T.S. Ellis III stated to the investigative team, “You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort. You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.”
The judge also demanded to see the unredacted “scope memo.” This document outline the scope of the investigation that congressional Republicans have also been after.
Fox News reports:
Manafort’s attorneys argue the special counsel does not have the power to indict him on the charges they have brought – and seemed to find a sympathetic ear with Ellis.
The Reagan-appointed judge asked Mueller’s team where they got the authority to indict Manafort on alleged crimes dating as far back as 2005.
Mueller’s special counsel has argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave them a wide range of authority in the May 2, 2017 letter that he wrote when he appointed Mueller to the Trump/Russia probe. The team is now using information which came from the earlier Justice Department probe. Ellis explained that this information didn’t “arise” from the special counsel investigation. This means that it might not be within the scope of the investigation that is currently taking place.
He stated, “We don’t want anyone with unfettered power.”
The special counsel team has stated that their authorities are shown in documents, which include the August 2017 scope memo. They also have claimed that some powers are secretive because they have to do with ongoing investigations as well as national security measures which cannot be disclosed to the public.
Ellis did not seem to be moved by the claims.
He finished off the argument of the special counsel by saying, “We said this was what [the] investigation was about, but we are not bound by it and we were lying.”
President Trump mentioned the comments that were made by the judge on Friday while he was speaking at an NRA convention in Texas.
He exclaimed, “It’s a witch hunt. I love fighting these battles.”
The government was given two weeks to fork up the unredacted “scope memo” by the judge.
They special counsel argued that some of the information didn’t have to do with Manafort.
Judge Ellis shot back, “I’ll be the judge of that.”
Ellis isn’t the only one looking for the document. House Republicans have been trying to get their hands on the full document for a while now. A redacted version was previously released by the Justice Department. This version only contains information on Manafort, but there isn’t much else to it.
Fox News wrote, “The charges in federal court in Virginia were on top of another round of charges in October. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to both rounds. 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. Earlier this year, Ellis suggested that Manafort could face life in prison, and ‘poses a substantial flight risk” because of his “financial means and international connections to flee and remain at large.'”