A federal judge presiding over the Paul Manafort case has expressed skepticism over what prosecutors in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office are really after in bringing criminal charges against the businessman.
Despite the intense questioning, Ellis did not issue an immediate ruling on Manafort's case.
In federal court in the District of Columbia, Judge Amy Jackson has already tossed out a lawsuit seeking to bar the special counsel from bringing any future charges against Manafort.
Legal experts questioned the judge's comments.
Manafort faces an even broader array of charges pending in a separate but related case in Washington, D.C., where he is scheduled to go on trial in September.
When Michael Dreeben of the special counsel's office said the charges against Manafort fell under Mueller's original mandate, Ellis asked, "The scope covers bank fraud from 2005?"
Now the judge wants to know why Mr. Mueller's signature prosecution doesn't appear to have anything to do with it. "You really care about getting information Mr Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment". While much of the document was redacted, Rosenstein authorized Mueller to investigate at least two threads related to Manafort: allegations that he colluded with Russian officials during the campaign, and allegations that he committed crimes "arising out of payments he received from the Ukrainian government before and during the tenure of President Viktor Yanukovych".
"We don't need anybody with unfettered energy", Decide T.S. Ellis instructed Mueller's prosecutors Friday morning in an Alexandria, Va., courthouse, increasing his feedback to incorporate authorities extra broadly.
That challenge led Mueller's team to include a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the probe following Attorney General Jeff Sessions's recusal past year.
Whether Manafort colluded with Russian government officials as Russia was trying to meddle in the 2016 United States election.
Most of the three-page memo is blacked out, and Dreeben said it wasn't necessary to share the rest of it because it didn't relate to Manafort.
The judge also said Mueller should not have "unfettered power" in the Russian Federation probe.
Mueller's office took over an investigation of Manafort that had been conducted by prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Ellis sits.
"So I would love to speak", he told reporters. "How does that have to do with links or coordination with Russian Federation and Trump?" "You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud".
"When Mueller came across Manafort's illicit activities, he had two choices", Cramer said. "It arose from the pre-existing investigation". The special counsel has kept some of its power a secret for national security reasons. At one point he scolded one of them for nodding in agreement throughout the argument.
"We don't want anyone in this country with unfettered power". "We are operating within a framework of regulations".
Ellis added that he found it suspicious that Mueller was insisting on having Manafort stand trial in Virginia, while the NY courts were being allowed to try Trump lawyer Michael Cohen on their own. Breeden said the Manafort case is different. Both indictments center largely around Manafort's lobbying work for the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian interests.