U.S. judge questions special counsel Robert Mueller's powers in Paul Manafort case

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Manafort Judge: Mueller only really cares about the “prosecution or impeachment” of Trump

Lisa Kern Griffin, a professor at Duke University School of Law and a former federal prosecutor, said it is unlikely Ellis will dismiss the charges against Manafort because bringing them was "almost certainly" within Mueller's broad authority. Manafort maintains his innocence.

Judge T.S. Ellis III said said Mueller should not have "unfettered power" in his Russian Federation probe.

"You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud". "What you really care about is what information Mr. Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment".

Manafort's lawyers argued at a hearing Friday in Alexandria, Va., that the charges are far afield from Mueller's mandate to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether any collusion occurred.

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".

"We don't want anyone in this country with unfettered power. The American people feel pretty strongly that no one has unfettered power", CNN detailed.

Manafort faces no charges related to the 2016 presidential election. The Virginia indictment alleges that he concealed tens of millions of dollars he earned advising pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine from the Internal Revenue Service, before Trump ran for president.

Ellis asked why a run-of-the-mill bank fraud case with no "reference to any Russian individual or Russian bank" could not be handed over to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Virginia.

The choose heard arguments from Manafort's protection group of their movement to dismiss the particular counsel's 32-count indictment of their shopper within the Japanese District of Virginia case.

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At the hearing, Justice Department attorney Michael Dreeben argued that Mueller acted properly and always consulted with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the investigation, about the steps he was taking. A heavily redacted version of this memo was submitted to the court, and the judge has requested to see the full memo.

The judge also said Mueller should not have "unfettered power" in the Russian Federation probe.

Manafort has been the subject of a long-running investigation over his dealings in Ukraine several years ago - for which he didn't file as a foreign agent until June 2017. "It is a witch hunt". "It's a witch hunt", Trump said.

As an example, he pointed to the FBI probe into Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and said the special counsel had turned that matter over to federal prosecutors in Manhattan. "It's from years before".

The judge then asked the government to give him an unredacted copy of the memo. "Let me tell you, folks, we're all fighting battles, but I love fighting these battles". He worked for me for a very short period of time.

"Literally for like, what?" Literally for like, what, a couple of months? "Does anybody say that? No".

Earlier on Friday, as he left for the NRA conference, Trump said he would welcome an interview with Mueller. Ellis said. "Tell me how". "I would love to go".

"Your argument is that this is the scope of the investigation but we really didn't mean it and we weren't required to disclose it", Ellis said.

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