by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Federal Judge T.S. Ellis III, a Reagan appointee, could be the ultimate nightmare for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who may lose his legal case against Paul Manafort, according to an extraordinary May 4 exchange in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia.
A dismissal could be a major wrecking ball to Mueller’s overall case in his Russian collusion case against President Donald Trump.
Amid Friday’s legal event, Ellis was best known for invoking an NFL term to dismiss Mueller’s legal posture, saying “C’mon man!” as he challenged the special counsel’s attempt to drag an unrelated bank fraud case back in 2005 to indict Manafort. Those charges are well beyond Mueller’s original mandate to investigate alleged collusion with Russia in 2016 and had to be dismissed, the judge said, according to the hearing transcript.
“If I look at the indictment, none of that information has anything to do with links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump,” he lectured Michael Dreebeen, Mueller’s lawyer in the court room. “So I don’t see what relation this indictment has with anything the special prosecutor is authorized to investigate.”
The federal judge also was enraged that Mueller redacted 75 percent of an August 2017 order from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which further outlined the special counsel’s mandate, according to the transcript. Ellis has handled numerous espionage cases and enjoys among the highest level government clearances, the judge reminded the government’s lawyer.