ANDREW NAPOLITANO: 

Prosecutors and the Rule of Law


Late last week, a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, questioned the authority of special counsel Robert Mueller to seek an indictment and pursue the prosecution of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort for alleged financial crimes that, according to the indictment, began and ended well before Donald Trump ran for president. Mueller was appointed special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because of allegations that Rosenstein accepted of a conspiracy by members of the Trump campaign to accept assistance from a foreign person, entity or government, which is a felony.

The application by Manafort's lawyers before Judge T.S. Ellis III was actually a motion to dismiss the indictment against Manafort for want of jurisdiction. Stated differently, Manafort argued that Mueller exceeded the authority granted to him by the Department of Justice and thus he has no legal ability — jurisdiction — to prosecute Manafort. During the course of the oral argument on this motion, the judge opined that in his view, Mueller is only prosecuting Manafort for bank and tax fraud to squeeze him to testify against President Trump on matters that might be impeachable.  ... MORE



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