A federal judge has thrown a monkey wrench in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s attempt to keep secret the people he granted immunity to in the case against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
According to The New York Post:
A federal judge in Virginia agreed Monday to grant immunity to five potential witnesses in Paul Manafort’s upcoming trial — but, in a blow to special counsel Robert Mueller, said their identities would be made public.
Mueller’s team wanted the identities of their witnesses to remain confidential, saying in a filing last week that they haven’t been criminally charged and not naming them would avoid “undue harassment.”
But Judge T.S. Ellis, a Ronald Reagan appointee, said they would be identified.
He also ordered Mueller’s office to provide a list of about 30 witnesses to Manafort’s lawyers.
You are required to reveal the people you intend to call as witnesses to the opposition.
The judge also denied the Mueller team the permission to ask all potential jurors if they voted for Hillary or Trump in 2016.
“We’re not going to go inquire into how people voted,” Judge Ellis said.
According to CBS, the five people who Mueller identified to the Court who were offered immunity are:
Dennis Raico: A person named Dennis Raico, according to CNBC, worked at Chicago-based Federal Savings Bank. The government has been investing whether Manafort promised the president of FSB, Steve Calk, a job in exchange for a $16 million home loan.
Cindy Laporta: Laporta is employed by Kositzka, Wicks and Company, which is Manafort’s accounting firm, Bloomberg reported;
Conor O’Brien: O’Brien, like Laporta, works for KWC.
The other two witnesses who have been granted immunity are Donna Duggan and James Brennan.
While there have been reports that Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta was offered immunity, Mueller did not identify him as one of the five. That may mean that he’s still in the mix to be charged which is good or it may mean that Mueller is not ready to put any deal with him forward yet. But he has to, at some point, if he intends to use him because he’s required to inform the court and the defense about potential witnesses.
Ellis also slammed Mueller for dragging his feet, Politico reported:
Ellis sounded a skeptical note about the relevance of some of the materials.
“The New York Yankees don’t have anything to do with this case?” the judge asked one of Manafort’s lawyers, who replied that the baseball team could indeed be a topic of discussion since Mueller had listed his client’s season ticket licensing agreements as potential evidence.
Ellis signaled his reluctance to let the trial veer into “irrelevant stuff” that had little to do with the direct charges the longtime GOP operative faces.
“I’m not going to allow this trial to drag on,” Ellis said. “I’m not in the theater business. You have to be better-looking than that.”