Judge Praised by Trump Rules in Favor of Robert Mueller's Investigation

A second judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of special counsel Robert Mueller's authority to bring charges against President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort as a part of the Russia investigation.

The move likely came as a shock to some, including, perhaps, the president himself. Judge T.S. Ellis II had appeared critical of the Mueller team when he heard arguments against the special counsel's authority back in May, so much so that he drew praise from Trump. 

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud,” said Ellis told the prosecutors in May. “You really care about getting information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment.”

Trump cheered the rebuke that day, saying, "I’ve been saying that for a long time — it’s a witch hunt."

But many observers pointed out at the time that many judges, and Ellis in particular, like to make a show of being hard on prosecutors even when they eventually rule in their favor. And Mueller, it seemed, had the stronger legal arguments.

"The Special Counsel’s appointment was consistent with both constitutional requirements regarding appointment of officers and statutory requirements governing the authority to conduct criminal litigation on behalf of the United States, the Special Counsel had legal authority to investigate and to prosecute this matter and dismissal of the Superseding Indictment is not warranted," Ellis wrote.

However, Ellis did issue a warning about the potential abuse of special counsels: "The appointment of special prosecutors has the potential to disrupt these checks and balances, and to inject a level of toxic partisanship into investigation of matters of public importance."

Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who presides over the Washington, D.C. charges against Manafort, had previously also ruled in favor of Mueller's authority.

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