Manafort has asked the judge to review Mueller's authority to bring charges in an investigation that began well before the special counsel's appointment and focused on actions years before the campaign.
"That's what you're really interested in", said Ellis, who was appointed in 1987 by Republican President Ronald Reagan and holds degrees from Princeton University, Harvard Law School and the University of Oxford. The Virginia case charges him with offenses including tax and bank fraud.
Manafort also faces separate charges in Washington, D.C., where he is accused of conspiring to launder money and failing to register as a foreign agent when he lobbied for the pro-Russia Ukrainian government.
The charges all stem from his work for Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych between 2005 and 2014 and are unrelated to the Trump campaign. Trump has denied any collusion. In the most recent filing, they argued that the Mueller investigation has provided no evidence of contact or communications between Manafort and any Russian officials, and therefore has "no lawful authority or jurisdiction to investigate or prosecute" Manafort.
Ellis told Mueller's attorneys that they "don't really care about Mr. Manafort".
The Paul Manafort prosecution on things having nothing to do with the reason Mueller was appointed, alleged Russian Federation collusion, is a good example, as was the prosecution of Michael Flynn.
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"Our investigative scope does cover the activity" in the indictment", Dreeben told the judge. "Tell me how!" the judge shot back. In motions filed in March, Manafort's attorneys claimed Mueller's charges had gone well outside what the Justice Department had tasked him to probe almost ago. Ellis is a longtime ally of the national security state-as are all federal judges in the Eastern District of Virginia, which includes the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC, where the Pentagon and the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Virginia are located. She has also not yet ruled on the motion.
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. As least as to the portion revealed about Manafort, it shows a willingness to give post hoc justification for conduct of Mueller that does not appear authorized by the text of the original May 17 appointing Order. "I've been here a while, the vernacular is 'to sing'".
Judge T.E. Ellis suggested the prosecution's case was a search for information regarding the 2016 presidential campaign, and whether the case could provide information leading to Trump's impeachment. He also has added an attorney from the office of the US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia to his legal team for the case: Uzo Asonye, who in 2016 prosecuted Norfolk Treasurer Anthony Burfoot for corruption.
Trump called Manafort "a nice guy" but also said he was part of his campaign for "a very short period of time".
Because of Manafort's lawyers efforts last month, we now know there is another, more detailed memo drafted by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and hidden from public view that lays out the Mueller probes scope with more specificity.
The judge replied that the second memo was highly redacted.