Judge: ‘Even Blind Person Can See True Target of Special Counsel’s Investigation Is President Trump’

Craig Bannister | June 28, 2018 | 6:09pm EDT
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Paul Manafort (Screenshot)

“Any blind person can see” that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecution of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort isn’t about Manafort – it’s about getting his “true target” – the president.

While ruling against Manafort in court on June 26, 2018, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III made the declaration in a footnote in his decision:

15 Given the investigation’s focus on President Trump’s campaign, even a blind person can see that the true target of the Special Counsel’s investigation is President Trump, not defendant, and that defendant’s prosecution is part of that larger plan. Specifically, the charges against defendant are intended to induce defendant to cooperate with the Special Counsel by providing evidence against the President or other members of the campaign.

But, he concludes, Mueller’s tactics may be “distasteful,” but they’re not illegal or even unusual:

“Although these kinds of high-pressure prosecutorial tactics are neither uncommon nor illegal, they are distasteful.”

The judge’s footnote refers to his analysis of Manafort’s claim that Mueller had overstepped his bounds by going after the former campaign manager when he had been appointed to investigate Russia’s potential influence on the 2016 presidential election:

“This multi-count indictment charging defendant with various bank fraud and tax charges was brought by a Special Counsel appointed by the Acting Attorney General to investigate collusion between President Trump’s campaign for the presidency and the Russian government in connection with the 2016 Presidential election. At issue is defendant’s threshold challenge to the authority of the Special Counsel to pursue the charges in the Superseding Indictment which, on their face, appear unrelated to the 2016 Presidential election.

“Several months later, on February 22, 2018, the Special Counsel charged defendant 15 with, and a grand jury indicted defendant on (i) five counts of subscribing to false income tax returns, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1) (Counts 1-5); (ii) four counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank accounts, in violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5314, 5322(a) (Counts 11-14); and (iii) nine counts bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1344, 1349 (Counts 24-32).”

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