May 6, 2018

A couple of recent stories that have made the headlines in the Mueller probe this week have Trump's best friends over on state-run TV downright giddy over the prospect tossed out there by his new lawyer Rudy Giuliani Saturday evening that the probe into Russian meddling in our election might be shutdown altogether, despite Giuliani himself saying that he was "still learning the facts" about the investigation.

First is the report that a federal judge in Virginia on Friday chastised the special counsel for only being interested in squeezing Manafort to get to Trump. There hasn't been a ruling by the judge yet, and the worst case scenario if the judge does rule against Mueller is the case gets handed over to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia for prosecution, not thrown out altogether:

A federal judge in Virginia on Friday sharply questioned the motivations of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s fraud prosecution of President Trump’s former campaign manager, saying it was aimed at getting him to provide evidence against the president.

Judge T.S. Ellis III’s comments came during a hearing in Alexandria federal court, where attorneys for Paul Manafort argued that bank- and tax-fraud charges against him are outside the scope of the special counsel’s authority. While the judge has yet to rule and indicated that he may well decide in favor of prosecutors, his scrutiny of their approach quickly became a rallying cry for supporters of the president.

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud,” said Ellis, who is known for being combative with attorneys in his courtroom. “You really care about getting information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment.” [...]

Manafort’s attorneys contend that their client’s alleged crimes in Virginia have nothing to do with the election or with Trump.

Ellis agreed, emphasizing that some of the charges involve purported conduct that occurred over a decade ago. But he made no immediate decision on the defense motion to dismiss the case. The judge said that even without such a connection, the special counsel may well still have the authority to bring the charges.

“I’m not saying it’s illegitimate,” Ellis said.

But the judge did question why an investigation into Trump attorney Michael Cohen was handed over to federal prosecutors in New York while the Manafort case was kept with the special counsel.

Of course, none of that was mentioned by the crew on the Curvy Couch this Sunday, who instead continued painting the entire investigation as nothing but one big witch hunt to get Trump, and who begged Trump not to testify before a grand jury because it's simply a "perjury trap" designed to get the poor guy who just can't stop himself from lying.

The crew was also thrilled with a ruling by another judge, this one appointed by Trump, who ruled against Mueller in the case involving a Russian troll farm:

A federal judge has rejected special counsel Robert Mueller’s request to delay the first court hearing in a criminal case charging three Russian companies and 13 Russian citizens with using social media and other means to foment strife among Americans in advance of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In a brief order Saturday evening, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich offered no explanation for her decision to deny a request prosecutors made Friday to put off the scheduled Wednesday arraignment for Concord Management and Consulting, one of the three firms charged in the case.

The 13 people charged in the high-profile indictment in February are considered unlikely to ever appear in a U.S. court. The three businesses accused of facilitating the alleged Russian troll farm operation — the Internet Research Agency, Concord Management, and Concord Catering — were also expected to simply ignore the American criminal proceedings. Read on...

They wrapped up the segment hoping that Trump takes his case as to whether he can be compelled to testify all the way up to the Supreme Court and that the conservative judges will rule in his favor. No mention of course of how this squares with prior rulings where Bill Clinton was forced to testify.

So much for that hatred of "activist judges" by the right.

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