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Manafort hearing transcript reflects Mueller fishing expedition being put on trial

Manafort hearing transcript reflects Mueller fishing expedition being put on trial

I don’t remember the Order of appointment authorizing Mueller to: Go get the President, by any means possible, and don’t worry about collateral damage.

We reported on Friday about the hearing in federal court in Virginia regarding Paul Manafort’s request to have his criminal indictment and case dismissed because it was beyond the jurisdiction of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to prosecute.

Statements made by the judge during the hearing generated a lot of news, Manafort Judge: Mueller only really cares about the “prosecution or impeachment” of Trump. See that post for the details on the news reports of the hearing, plus my explanation of why Mueller is exceeding his authority.

While the prior post was based on news reports of what happened at the hearing, now we have the hearing Transcript (pdf.)(also at embed at bottom of post).

Click on the tweet below for a thread on the analysis and excerpts from the transcript.

Here are some of the interesting takes in that Twitter thread.

Manafort’s lawyer made the point I’ve been making, Rosenstein’s August 2, 2017 memo cannot retroactively expand Mueller’s authority:

Here are some of the money quotes from the Judge:

This portion from page 10 addresses Mueller’s expansive argument as to what constitutes, under the May 17, 2017 Order of appointment, crimes arising from the investigation. I’ve argued that such provision only relates to crimes in the course of the investigation (e.g. obstruction), not all crimes discovered during the investigation:

MR. DREEBEN: The first is that in provision (c) which is in the order, the special counsel is authorized to prosecute matters that arose from the investigation that is described earlier in the preamble and in (b)(i) and (b)(ii). So we are not limited in our prosecution authority to crimes that would fit within the precise description that was issued in this public order. If the investigation is valid, the crimes that arose from that investigation are within the special counsel’s authority to prosecute.

THE COURT: Even though it didn’t arise from your investigation. It arose from a preexisting investigation.

MR. DREEBEN: Well, the investigation was inherited by the special counsel.

THE COURT: That’s right, but your argument says, Even though the investigation was really done by the Justice Department, handed to you, and then you’re now using it, as I indicated before, as a means of persuading Mr. Manafort to provide information.
It’s vernacular by the way. I’ve been here a long time. The vernacular is to sing. That’s what prosecutors use, but what you’ve got to be careful of is they may not just sing. They may also compose. I can see a few veteran defense counsel here, and they have spent a good deal of time in this courtroom trying to persuade a jury that there wasn’t singing, there was composing going on. But in any event, finish up this point, and then I’ll come back to the defendant.

Scott Johnson at Power Line sees something else:

As I said yesterday in “Mueller’s got a secret,” I have no idea where this is going, but I’m enjoying the ride. In that post the “secret” to which I referred was the redacted portion of the August 2 scope memo. I see in the full transcript of the hearing there is another secret: the specific factual statement that sets forth the matter to be investigated by Mueller (Dreeben speaking at page 29: “the specific factual statement, as Attorney General Rosenstein described in his Congressional testimony, was conveyed to the special counsel upon his appointment in ongoing discussions that defined the parameters of the investigation that he wanted the special counsel to conduct”)….

My bet on how this ends up? The Judge rips Mueller’s team a new one, then lets them proceed forward anyway. I hope I’m wrong on that latter conclusion, because Mueller is on a fishing expedition, trolling the lake to find crimes by anyone associated with Trump who could be forced, in the judges words, to sing.

Funny, I don’t remember the Order of appointment authorizing Mueller to: Go get the President, by any means possible, and don’t worry about collateral damage.


U.S. v. Manafort – EDVA – Transcript of Hearing May 4, 2018 by Legal Insurrection on Scribd


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brightlights | May 5, 2018 at 10:00 pm

Even if he’s convicted he could have some good grounds for appeal.

rabid wombat | May 5, 2018 at 10:03 pm

Bench slap?

My bet on how this ends up? The Judge rips Mueller’s team a new one, then lets them proceed forward anyway.

Which is exactly how it looked the last time you wrote on this, sans transcript. The judge indicates that he knows better, does some grandstanding and virtue-signaling, but does nothing useful to quash this travesty.

    gonzotx in reply to tom_swift. | May 5, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    I think your right

    Ragspierre in reply to tom_swift. | May 6, 2018 at 10:43 am

    How is it a “travesty” for Monofart to be prosecuted for things he’s been known for years to be engaged in?

      Mac45 in reply to Ragspierre. | May 6, 2018 at 11:25 am

      Because it is a selective prosecution. Manafort’s activities are no different from a huge number of other political power brokers in Washington. Though Tony Podesta was engaged in the same type of activities, he was not indicted or charged. He did step down from his position within the Podesta lobbying firm.

      There is also the problem of whether Mueller has the authority to investigate and/or bring charges against Manafort for his activities for the Ukraine as well the legality of how the evidence against Manafort was acquired.

      We might not like it, but the government can not hold citizens to different standards of behavior and apply the law in anything other than a uniform manner.

        Ragspierre in reply to Mac45. | May 6, 2018 at 12:57 pm

        All prosecutions are “selective”.

        As to the rest, that’s based on your assumptions and bias.

      Edward in reply to Ragspierre. | May 6, 2018 at 2:32 pm

      Perhaps because he’s trolled the closed case files for the name “Manafort” (and others) to resurrect the case in hopes of squeezing Manafort to turn on Trump? Guess this gives a new meaning to the phrase “arising in the course of the investigation”. This case was shelved by the Eastern District of VA as not worth prosecuting. Suddenly the case takes on national importance up to 13 years after the earliest activity by Manafort and long before the election campaign for President in 2016.

      Come on, man! The DOJ passed on prosecuting Manafort for alleged bank fraud for years. Now, all of a sudden, Mueller is interested in Manafort/Ukrainian interaction? Give me a break. Manafort May have broken several laws for his past conduct, but Mueller is hardly the proper government inquisitor to indict him. (Mueller referred action against Cohen to the SDNY. What makes Manafort’s case different?) Oh. I remember. Cohens has no direct connection to Trump’s campaign and Manafort ran Trump’s campaign.

      This is a classic case of trying to pressure an “underling” to roll over on his boss. But Mueller is acting outside of the scope of his mandate.

      Come on, man!

      (See what I did there?)

      Hi Rags,

      The short answer is that it is outside the scope of Mueller’s authority to prosecute. Mueller is task-limited by his mandate, which was the original scope document. It cannot be later “boot-strapped.”

      Think of it like this: Pick a medium-size city in Texas. A District Attorney decides that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute a murder, and therefore lets the investigation languish. A City Municipal Attorney, tasked with nothing more empowering than prosecuting class C Misdemeanors, thereafter comes into iron-clad evidence that the accused did actually do the crime, and then takes it upon himself to file Murder charges. However, that evidence was obtained by a illegal search of the accused freezer, by breaking and entering into his house under color of a completely unreasonable claim of exigent circumstances (a claim that the searcher heard a scream from inside the house when it can be conclusively shown that there was no one else there but the searcher [ignore how we know that, assume for this example it’s true]).

      The Judge is going to dismiss with prejudice, because the Municipal Attorney has exceeded the statutory scope of his authority to prosecute. The appropriate action would have been for the information to be re-referred to the District Attorney, but now THEY can’t prosecute either, because all the evidence is “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree,” and is properly subject to exclusion.

      Arminius in reply to Ragspierre. | May 7, 2018 at 9:48 pm

      It’s a travesty for Mueller to prosecute Manafort.

      1. There is no potential underlying crime that Mueller was told to investigate. Rosenstein appointed Mueller to conduct a counter-intelligence investigation. That’s illegal.

      2. The appointment letter has to, in addition to telling the SC what possible CRIME is to be investigated, provide a set of specific facts that leads the DoJ to believe a crime may have been committed. Obviously that wasn’t done. It couldn’t be done, since the DoJ couldn’t even tell Mueller what possible crime may have been committed. There is none, so there is not set of specific facts to be articulated.

      3. The DoJ has to be able to articulate why they have such a conflict of interest r.e. Manafort and his alleged decade old financial crimes that they can’t investigate it themselves before they can justify appointing a SC. Again, every single fact, as Judge Ellis points out, completely blows any conflict of interest argument the DoJ may want to make out of the water. There wasn’t one. They’d been investigating Manafort for years. There had been an ongoing investigation for years. They simply dusted their files off and handed them to Mueller. I’d love to see Rosenstein go before this judge and try to argue that now all of a sudden there’s a conflict of interest.

      Mueller’s entire appointment is illegitimate. It’s the DoJ and Mueller who are violating the law. No alleged underlying crime, no specific set of facts, no conflict of interest = time to s***can this illegally appointed Mueller character and investigate HIM and his team. And Rosenstein.

      And while the DoJ clearly never for a second imagined they had a conflict of interest that meant they couldn’t go after Manafort at any point in the past 10 years, that idiot Rosenstein may have just have created one by violating the Special Counsel law in order to issue Mueller an open-season, no bag limit hunting license to go after anyone and everyone in Trump world to get Trump on anything and everything.

    Conan in reply to tom_swift. | May 6, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    I see this like I see some comments from Republicans in DC who can see this is a Witch Hunt and don’t want their reputations dragged down looking like they are too stupid to know what is happening or even endorsing it. They all back off when the time comes to actually get in the way of the Deep State train though.

So Special Mueller team mentions verbal orders from Trump Deranged Rosenstein to Special Mueller?? Secret Orders relating to ‘people under investigation who may never be charged’ WTF

incredible.. bench slap just happened going forward would just be allowing prosecutorial misconduct

I have seen judges order the senior attorney to make poor and legally suspect arguments so that sanctions will be on them personally and not the juniors he sends in.

Downing: So we found this crime while we were investigating–
Court: Wait a sec. This is a crime that was investigated back in 2005 and passed on by the prosecutors.
Downing: Uh, yes. But we found it again, and under our authority–
Court: Can I see that authority?
Downing: Uhm, no.
Court: You want to try that answer again?

My bet on how this ends up? The Judge rips Mueller’s team a new one, then lets them proceed forward anyway.

He telegraphed that here with “I’m not saying it’s illegitimate, but I think we ought to be clear about these facts and what is happening.”

It’s actually Sessions who has gone fishing.

tarheelkate | May 6, 2018 at 7:08 am

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line has experience with Judge Ellis in court. He says, “On the bench, Ellis’ inquisitiveness, thoroughness, doggedness, and strong sense of justice were on display for all to see. He also favored lengthy, scholarly opinions on a court long known for brevity.” If Ellis doesn’t get to see the unredacted memo, or if he sees it and it doesn’t authorize what they’re doing, he sounds like a judge who might just throw this case out. We’ll see.

    oldgoat36 in reply to tarheelkate. | May 6, 2018 at 10:13 am

    We can hope, but this whole thing reeks, and this judge seems to know it. Ellis is in a tough position with this, though I do hope to see him throw this out and help expose the Mueller Gestapo tactics.

    Mueller is slime, and Rosenstein is a huge part of this mess and had been from the start. Sessions threatening to resign if Rosenstein gets fired has raised a ton of questions about Sessions and his role in this, I don’t trust him. Neither should Trump.

    A wise friend once told me “the only way to win a case against federal prosecutors is to get the judge more angry with the prosecution than your client.”

    Manafort May have a chance depending on what is contained in the redacted memo.

Devin Nunes is looking to push for Sessions to be held in contempt of Congress…

The deep state stuff, seems like Sessions might be a part of it, which might explain his actions/ or non-actions. His recusing himself so quickly, his threat of resigning if Rosenstein is fired, allowing Rosenstein to give broader authority to Mueller. There is so much dirty playing going on that the dirt could practically make up a continent.

    Ragspierre in reply to oldgoat36. | May 6, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Another of your flights into un-reality that is destined to result in more frustration and anger.

    Remember that every day Jeff Sessions serves is at the good pleasure of Duh Donald.

    Mac45 in reply to oldgoat36. | May 6, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Yes, it is extremely unlikely Jeff Session has had 36 years of public service, including 10 years as a US Senator, and be in opposition to the Establishment in this country. While he might not be actively involved in the anti-Trump operations and political coverups of the Obama administrations, he has certainly turned a blind eye to them.

    It is also evident that Trump is not pleased with Sessions’ handling of just about every aspect of the DOJ, at this point. I thing that the only reason that Sessions is still there is because Trump is being strongly advised not to follow his instincts and fire him.

      Ragspierre in reply to Mac45. | May 6, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      …showing, if true, that Duh Donald is not who you portray him as being.

      regulus arcturus in reply to Mac45. | May 6, 2018 at 1:53 pm

      Sessions is still there because Trump cannot get another AG approved in the Senate, and any attempt to fire him would likely trigger impeachment talks, and additional investigations.

      Trump is boxed in.

      Those stating “Sessions is only there because of Trump, who is responsible” are disingenuous at best, and more likely flagrantly ignorant of the reality of replacing Sessions.

        Ragspierre in reply to regulus arcturus. | May 6, 2018 at 3:22 pm

        Your bullshit suggests that Duh Donald is a powerless captive of political forces, where he’s the nominal head of an entire party and in complete power to hire and fire any cabinet officer.

        T-rump CAN direct Sessions to follow his express directions. He shows no sign of doing that. What he DOES do is call Sessions stupid names like a mean girl. What a pissy, weak “leader”.

        T-rump CAN fire Sessions and make ANY appointment he wants during a Senate recess.

        He could certainly be building a political case with the American people for changing his AG that would be supported by the Senate. Instead, he spends time and political capital defaming Amazon and similar extraneous crap.

        He isn’t the Swamp-drainer Deluxe. And he isn’t opposed to Sessions conduct IN FACT. IF he were, he’d have done something about it long since. Something besides tweeting stupid names.

        Anyone who says otherwise is the one being “disingenuous”.

          regulus arcturus in reply to Ragspierre. | May 6, 2018 at 4:35 pm

          Please, dumbass, Senate Recess? C’mon, man.

          You’re irretrievably deranged that Trump won. That’s your shtick.

          He won precisely because he is not a politician, yet you continue to idiotically apply political templates to his actions and behavior.

          That doesn’t work, chump.

          He appears to have fallen into something of a political trap with Rosenstein, and likely Sessions (now in danger of impeachment), being deep state actors. There’s really no viable way out of that conundrum, unless Sessions suddenly turns attack dog.

          Thanks for putting your fetid ignorance on display for all to see Rags.

          You’ve far outlived what little entertainment value you think you used to have.

          Milhouse in reply to Ragspierre. | May 6, 2018 at 9:15 pm

          The senate doesn’t do recesses any more.

          Barry in reply to Ragspierre. | May 6, 2018 at 9:57 pm

          The senate doesn’t do recesses any more in order to keep Trump from making recess appointments.


          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 7, 2018 at 10:20 am

          I see a lot of name-calling. I don’t see any argument.

          He could certainly be building a political case with the American people for changing his AG that would be supported by the Senate. Instead, he spends time and political capital defaming Amazon and similar extraneous crap.

          He isn’t the Swamp-drainer Deluxe. And he isn’t opposed to Sessions conduct IN FACT. IF he were, he’d have done something about it long since. Something besides tweeting stupid names.

          Anyone who says otherwise is the one being “disingenuous”.

          SDN in reply to Ragspierre. | May 7, 2018 at 10:37 am

          “T-rump CAN fire Sessions and make ANY appointment he wants during a Senate recess.”

          Oh, look, Rags lies again.

          “But the current deal comes after Trump repeatedly lashed out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, sparking speculation that he would fire the former senator and try to name his successor while Congress was out of town. “

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 7, 2018 at 8:37 pm

          Oh, look! SDN lies about me lying…AGAIN…!!!

          But you do have a point. I don’t hang on everything, day-to-day. I missed the “no recess” story.

          But the fact remains that T-rump COULD take advantage of a recess.

          AND the fact remains that Duh Donald is doing nothing to build ANY political support for firing Sessions, and there is NOTHING to show he’s got more than weak-assed whinging over HIS pick for AG.

      “10 years as a US Senator…”

      With the GOPe having banboozled us for the past few decades?

      Sessions is as probably as dirty as boehner and mcconnell. If he wasn’t he wouldn’t be betraying his oath to enforce our laws.

      There’s no other answer to the questios of Sessions’ bad behavior.

        “There’s no other answer…”

        Of course there is. In order to secure evidence of criminal wrongdoing that allows for ironclad prosecution of people with high powered lawyers, every T must be crossed and every I dotted. We will know the answer sometime after the IG report comes out. Until then your speculation is just that, speculation. You might be correct. You very well may be wrong.

Well, let’s start with a lawyer type question: What’s the statute of limitations on what he’s being charged with. See Andrew McCarthy’s Uranium One article:

“Furthermore, the prosecution of Mikerin’s racketeering scheme had been so delayed that the Justice Department risked losing the ability to charge the 2009 felonies because of the five-year statute of limitations on most federal crimes.

Still, a lid needed to be kept on the case. It would have made for an epic Obama administration scandal, and a body blow to Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes, if in the midst of Russia’s 2014 aggression, public attention had been drawn to the failure, four years earlier, to prosecute a national-security case in order to protect Russia’s takeover of U.S. nuclear assets.”

“How desperate was the Obama Justice Department to plead the case out? Here, Rosenstein and Holder will have some explaining to do.”

“The Justice Department instructs prosecutors that when Congress has given a federal offense its own conspiracy provision with a heightened punishment (as it has for money laundering, racketeering, narcotics trafficking, and other serious crimes), they may not charge a section 371 conspiracy. Section 371 is for less serious conspiracy cases. Using it for money laundering — which caps the sentence way below Congress’s intent for that behavior — subverts federal law and signals to the court that the prosecutor does not regard the offense as major.

Yet, that is exactly what Rosenstein’s office did, in a plea agreement his prosecutors co-signed with attorneys from the Justice Department’s Fraud Section.”