In a photo taken Wednesday, June 21, 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

 

Yesterday, the special counsel had a very tough day in court. Federal district judge T. S. Ellis was openly skeptical not only of the authority of the special counsel to undertake the prosecution of Paul Manafort on crimes that are over a decade old, but he was blatantly skeptical of the honesty of the special counsel as well. It probably wasn’t lost on the judge that the special counsel had said in court filings that Manafort had been in contact with Russian intelligence operatives in 2016 and then had to admit, via a Brady motion, that it actually had zero evidence that this was true.

Now the transcript has started leaking out and it looks worse than the media reports from yesterday.

This is my favorite part.

If this next argument flies, it’s game over for the special counsel…but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a judge to throw out a high profile case merely because the defendant’s rights were abused.

We know the next argument is true because the bank fraud/money laundering had been the subject of an earlier investigation. The special counsel stumbled upon a ready-made indictment that fit Manafort and grabbed it.

This is sort of scary:

We know why and so does the judge:

I’m not a lawyer but I do believe in fair play. From what was laid out in this hearing the special counsel chose Manafort as a pressure point to try to get an indictment on Trump and from that tactical decision they went to work to find something on which to indict Manafort. And that was pretty easy. There were old investigations into Manafort lying around that they dusted off and used as a basis for an indictment. Not that Manafort had anything to do with Russia but the theory was he’d give the special counsel something incriminating or embarrassing on Trump.

If this ends up being a public relations fight between Trump and Mueller, I wouldn’t give much in the way of odds in favor of Mueller being able to win it.