Clarice Feldman has done a better job than I ever could to summarize and explain the matter of the prosecution being brought against Paul Manafort by Robert Mueller’s team, and the conclusions reached by Judge T.S. Ellis III:
My friend Tom Lipscomb, commenting on the newsworthy but welcome judicial challenge to the scope of the special counsel’s power in the Manafort case in Virginia, says it reminds him of the Tom Lehrer song about a man and his hunting license. In relevant parts, the lyrics are:
I always will remember ’twas a year ago November,
I went out to hunt some deer,
On a morning, bright and clear.
I went and shot the maximum the game laws would allow,
Two game wardens, seven hunters and a cow. …
The law was very firm – it took away my permit,
The worst punishment I ever endured.
It turned out there was a reason, cows were out of season,
And one of the hunters – wasn’t insured.
1. Judge Ellis: “I’ll be the judge”
The best account of the hearing before Judge Ellis I’ve found is in Reuters.
Manafort is being prosecuted for bank and tax fraud allegedly committed years before the Trump campaign – in 2005 and 2007 – and for which he was previously investigated and no charges brought. He moved to dismiss these cases in the District of Columbia and Virginia courts. The motion is pending in D.C., but in Virginia, Judge T.S. Ellis III found that the defense’s claims showed considerable merit. As Reuters reports:
“I don’t see what relationship this indictment has with anything the special counsel is authorized to investigate,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in the Eastern District of Virginia said.
At a tense hearing at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, the judge said Mueller should not have “unfettered power” in his Russia probe and that the charges against Manafort did not arise from the investigation into Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
“It’s unlikely you’re going to persuade me the special counsel has unfettered power to do whatever he wants[.]” … “Our investigative scope does cover the activity in the indictment,” Dreeben [the Department’s deputy solicitor general] told the judge.
“Cover bank fraud in 2005 and 2007? Tell me how!” Ellis retorted. …
During the oral arguments, Ellis repeatedly chided Mueller’s $10 million budget.
He also asked whether Rosenstein, who oversees the probe and is considered an important witness into whether Trump tried to obstruct justice, is recused from the case.
And he repeatedly claimed that the indictment appeared to serve as a way for Mueller to “assert leverage” over Manafort. …
Rosenstein’s May 2017 order laying out the scope of the probe, [Dreeben] told the judge, did not reveal all the details because they involve sensitive national security and counterintelligence matters that could not be divulged publicly, but were conveyed to Mueller.
Ellis balked, saying Dreeben’s answer essentially means the Justice Department was “not really telling the truth[.]” …
Dreeben also stressed that Rosenstein wrote another memo two months later, in August 2017, explicitly granting Mueller the power to investigate Manafort’s Ukraine dealings years before the 2016 election.
[Ellis] directed Mueller’s office to take two weeks to consult with U.S. intelligence agencies to see if they will sign off so that he can personally review a sealed, unredacted version of the memo.
Dreeben told him the redacted portions did not pertain to the Manafort case.
“I’ll be the judge,” Ellis said.
James Woods, a brilliant actor, tweeted:
I can’t in my lifetime remember when a case of this import featured a judge calling the prosecutor a liar from the bench. This is a landmark moment.
Actually, I do remember when courts called the prosecution liars in cases of great import. Unfortunately, they were both post-conviction. A three-judge panel of the D.C. court conceded that Judith Miller had been tricked by the special prosecutor in the Libby case into giving false testimony against the defendant, and DOJ attorneys and FBI agents were found to have engaged in numerous unethical and illegal acts before Judge Sullivan in the Ted Stevens prosecution. The link to all three cases is the partisan use of the law as a political weapon by lawyers and FBI agents in government employ.
To read the other four points, visit Clarice’s original post at American Thinker
If you are interested, here is the Tom Lehrer song referred to by Clarice, H/T Tom Lipscomb: