The scene played out in Judge Ellis’ courtroom last week will become legendary: a prosecutor telling the presiding judge that he has a secret scope of power that supersedes the legal system. Let that sink in and read the exchange detailed in the article below.
The transcript reveals an unimpressed Ellis repeatedly pushing back against Dreeben’s attempts to tie Manafort’s bank fraud case to Russia, while an arrogant Dreeben suggests that the power vested in Ellis is dwarfed by the Special Counsel’s omnipotence.
Ellis then calls out the case as an attempt by Mueller to gain leverage over Manafort.
“You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment or whatever. That’s what you’re really interested in.” –Judge Ellis
Ellis then points out to Dreeben that the Special Counsel’s indictment against Manafort doesn’t mention:
(1) Russian individuals
(2) Russian banks
(3) Russian money
(4) Russian payments to Manafort
To which Dreeben looped back to the argument that “the money that forms the basis for the criminal charges” comes from Manafort’s “Ukraine activities,” which is tied to Manafort’s Russia activities (which still doesn’t answer the Judge’s question).
Manafort’s attorney hit back, calling the Special Counsel’s arguments “absolutely erroneous.”
Ellis has given prosecutors two weeks to show what evidence they have that Manafort was complicit in colluding with the Russians. If they can’t come up with any, he may, presumably, dismiss the case. Ellis also asked the special counsel’s office to share privately with him a copy of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein’s August 2017 memo elaborating on the scope of Mueller’s Russia probe. He said the current version he has been heavily redacted.
Uh-oh precedence if this gets dismissed…. The Judge may single handedly end the cat and mouse games by the special counsel and would make it much harder for Muller to turn any other parties to his side (because all charges are unrelated to Russia so far)….
— Rob Lee (@WRRob) May 4, 2018