Manafort Judge Grills Prosecutors

MAnafort

Federal Judge TS Ellis’ verbal questioning of the Paul Manafort prosecutors in court has raised plenty of questions, and stirred up the already troubled waters surrounding the Special Counsels investigation. Legal tea leaves are among the hardest to read, but plenty of folks are immediately speculating what this might all mean for not just Manafort but the Mueller probe as a whole.

CNN:

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud,” Ellis said to prosecutor Michael Dreeben, at times losing his temper. Ellis said prosecutors were interested in Manafort because of his potential to provide material that would lead to Trump’s “prosecution or impeachment,” Ellis said.

“That’s what you’re really interested in,” said Ellis, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

Ellis repeated his suspicion several times in the hour-long court hearing. He said he’ll make a decision at a later date about whether Manafort’s case can go forward.

“We don’t want anyone in this country with unfettered power. It’s unlikely you’re going to persuade me the special prosecutor has power to do anything he or she wants,” Ellis told Dreeben. “The American people feel pretty strongly that no one has unfettered power.”

When Dreeben answered Ellis’ question about how the investigation and its charges date back to before the Trump campaign formed, the judge shot back, “None of that information has to do with information related to Russian government coordination and the campaign of Donald Trump.”

At one point, Ellis posed a hypothetical question, speaking as if he were the prosecutor, about why Mueller’s office referred a criminal investigation about Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen to New York authorities and kept the Manafort case in Virginia.

They weren’t interested in it because it didn’t “further our core effort to get Trump,” Ellis said, mimicking a prosecutor in the case.

A smattering of various opinions:

FWIW

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