May 4, 2018

FEDERAL JUDGE: THIS MUELLER THING KINDA LOOKS LIKE A WITCH HUNT TO ME:

A federal judge on Friday sharply criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal case in Virginia against President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and openly questioned whether Mueller exceeded his prosecutorial powers by bringing it.

“I don’t see what relationship this indictment has with anything the special counsel is authorized to investigate,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis in the Eastern District of Virginia said.

At tense hearing at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, the judge said Mueller should not have “unfettered power” in his Russia probe and that the charges against Manafort did not arise from the investigation into Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Indeed.

Related: ‘Come on, man!’: A federal judge cast serious doubt on Mueller’s case against Manafort and suggested he’s using it to get Manafort to flip.

US District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III suggested that the reason prosecutors are going after Manafort is to try to get him to flip on President Donald Trump.

“I don’t see what relation this indictment has with what the special counsel is authorized to investigate,” Ellis said to prosecutors. “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.”

Well, that’s clearly true.

UPDATE: You know it’s bad when even Vox has this headline: Robert Mueller’s team just had a really rough day in court: Judge T.S. Ellis III questioned whether Mueller had just charged Manafort to try to “get” President Trump.

Related: Rod Rosenstein is doing a star turn as principled defender of the law, but he’s performed abysmally as deputy attorney general, and President Donald Trump would be fully justified in firing him. “Neglecting to place restrictions on the Mueller investigation is grounds for his removal.” (Bumped).