Trump Seizes On Judge’s Pointed Questions To Bash Mueller’s Team

on May 4, 2018 in Dallas, Texas.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America

President Donald Trump has a new hero.

Just a few hours after U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis grilled Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team on how the indictment brought against Paul Manafort in Virginia is relevant to the Russia probe, Trump tried to use Ellis’ comments from the hearing to support his claim that the Russia probe is a “witch hunt.”

On the stage at the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas, Trump read headlines from news stories on Friday’s hearing on Manafort’s motion to dismiss the federal grand jury indictment against him in Virginia. He quoted the Wall Street Journal‘s headline, “Judge Questions Mueller’s Authority to Prosecute Manafort,” and the headline run by CNN, “Judge in Manafort case says Mueller’s aim is to hurt Trump.”

“You believe that? This is what we’re up — it is called the witch hunt,” Trump said.

He then started to read the first few lines from the Wall Street Journal’s story, making several interjections to praise Manafort, downplay Manafort’s role in the 2016 campaign, and call the judge a “very special” and “respected person.”

Trump noted that the judge asked prosecutors how the charges brought against Manafort — which stem from his work in Ukraine before the 2016 election — were relevant to the core of the Russia probe and that the judge hypothesized that prosecutors only went after Manafort to secure his cooperation for other parts of the probe.

“I’ve been saying that for a long time. It’s a witch hunt,” Trump said.

“We’re all fighting,” the President added. “It’s a disgrace.”

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