On Friday, a federal judge in Virginia accused lawyers from special counsel Robert Mueller's office of bringing charges against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort because they're really trying to impeach President Donald Trump.
"I don't see what relation this indictment has with what the special counsel is authorized to investigate," U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III said at a hearing. "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 want the charges of bank and tax fraud brought against their client dismissed, arguing that the alleged crimes are outside the scope of the Mueller probe's authority, as they are unrelated to the 2016 election.
The lawyers from the special counsel's office argue that an August 2 memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein authorized Mueller's probe to investigate and bring charges against Manafort for his financial ties to Ukrainian politicians and other matters not directly linked to Russian interference in the 2016 election. A heavily redacted version of this memo was submitted to the court, and the judge has requested to see the full memo.
Ellis, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, did not issue an immediate ruling to toss out the case against Manafort and suggested that he may not do so.
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