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Napolitano: Judge’s Tough Talk Against Mueller at Manafort Hearing is ‘Irrelevant’

A Fox News segment didn’t seem to go exactly as planned on Monday morning. Host Bill Hemmer briefly interviewed network regular Judge Andrew Napolitano on America’s Newsroom in order to discuss an apparent snag in special counsel Robert Mueller‘s prosecution of Paul Manafort.

Hemmer wound up his pitch, noting, “T.S. Ellis III–great name by the way–was challenging the government’s case on Friday afternoon, saying, ‘This is outside the bounds of what the definition of a special counsel is all about; you’re trying to squeeze this guy Manafort in order to get to another target. And that target’s the president.’ You heard it.” Napolitano affirmed.

Hemmer then asked, “What did you think?” To which Napolitano replied:

Nothing. Because it’s just the personal opinion of the judge. There’s no evidence in the courtroom in front of him to justify that kind of an opinion. It drew enormous headlines over the weekend because it’s a political narrative with which the Trump supporters agree. It’s probably correct but it is irrelevant to his ruling on the matter.

Napolitano continued, patiently explaining the legal import of Ellis’ comments to Hemmer.

“The matter was Manafort moves to dismiss the indictment against him on the theory that Mueller doesn’t have the jurisdiction to prosecute me for bank fraud,” Napolitano said. “The judge says, ‘Well, you know, where does the jurisdiction come from?’ It comes from a letter authorizing it from the appointing authority, Rod Rosenstein. And Mueller has two weeks to produce that letter.”

Hemmer then tried his best to salvage the quickly-spiraling segment. He asked, “Now, so the attorney for Manafort from the very beginning, I believe, on day one he said this is gonna be our defense. ‘You are outside of your bounds.’ And you’re saying that’s good for an opinion but it’s not good from a legal standpoint. I understand that. The judge could still rule this way. Would Manafort be off the hook if that were to happen?”

Napolitano shut Hemmer down once again. He said:

No. If Judge Ellis dismisses this indictment on the theory that Bob Mueller did not have the jurisdiction to prosecute this charge in this venue in Virginia, then the local federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia will get an identical indictment from another grand jury and they will prosecute it. There’s no ‘Out of the woods.’

[image via screengrab/Fox News]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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