Judge Is Finished with Mueller's Games, Demands He Identify Witnesses in Manafort Case
A federal court on Monday released the names of five witnesses who have been granted immunity in the special counsel’s case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The witnesses were identified as Dennis Raico, Cindy Laporta, Conor O’Brien, Donna Duggan and James Brennan.
District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, a judge in Virginia, ordered Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors to identify the five witnesses along with around 30 others that the government plans to call at Manafort’s trial, which is slated to start with jury selection on Wednesday, according to Politico.
Ellis issued the order during a hearing in which Manafort’s attorneys requested to delay the trial’s start date. The trial was scheduled to start on Wednesday but Ellis delayed it until July 31.
Manafort faces money laundering and tax evasion charges related to his work for a Ukrainian political party that supported Ukrainian President Vladimir Yanukovych. Manafort was paid millions of dollars for the work, which ended in 2014.
The longtime GOP operative joined the Trump campaign in April 2016.
Manafort is also scheduled to go to trial in federal court in Washington, D.C., in September on charges related to his Ukraine work. Mueller has come under scrutiny during the case because it appears to have little to do with Manafort’s work on the Trump campaign.
Mueller has also informed Ellis that during the trial, prosecutors have no plans to introduce evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
Manafort’s lawyers have unsuccessfully argued that the special counsel should not have been handling the case because Mueller was appointed to investigate collusion and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller’s team has noted that Mueller’s mandate, which was signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, grants him the authority to prosecute any crimes that were discovered during the course of the collusion investigation.
The revelation last week that Mueller sought immunity for the five witnesses touched off widespread speculation about their identities. Manafort worked closely on his Ukraine work with lawyers for the firm Skadden Arps as well as with two lobbying groups, Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson reported on Thursday that one of the immunized witnesses is Podesta Group chairman Tony Podesta, a Democratic super-lobbyist with longstanding ties to the Clintons.
Podesta’s brother, John Podesta, was the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
It is unclear from Carlson’s report whether he was referring to immunity offered in the Virginia or Washington, D.C. case.
The special counsel’s office said it was offering immunity to the witnesses because they planned to invoke their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
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