Judge says special counsel Mueller seeks to oust Trump
5 May 2018
A federal judge with deep, longstanding connections to the national security apparatus assailed Special Counsel Robert Mueller during a court hearing Friday, declaring that the real purpose of the anti-Russia investigation was to generate material that would lead to Trump’s “prosecution or impeachment.”
Federal District Judge T.S. Ellis III was hearing a motion brought by the attorney for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, seeking the dismissal of his indictment for bank fraud on the grounds that such charges were outside the scope of Mueller’s investigative authority.
Defense attorney Kevin Downing argued that because the allegations against Manafort relate to actions many years before the 2016 elections, at a time when Manafort had no relationship with Donald Trump, Mueller had no basis for investigation.
Ellis eagerly embraced this argument, telling prosecutor Michael Dreeben, “You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud. You really care about what information he might give you about Mr. Trump and what might lead to his impeachment or prosecution.”
“That’s what you’re really interested in,” Ellis continued, appearing to lose his temper, according to press accounts.
Remarkably, Dreeben did not explicitly disavow the intention to oust Trump from the White House, merely replying that the investigation had to “follow the money.”
Ellis returned to this issue several times during the court hearing, but ultimately indicated he would make a decision on whether to dismiss the charges against Manafort at a later date. Trial is tentatively scheduled for July 10.
At one point in the proceedings, Manafort’s attorney pointed out that the…