(CNN) Special counsel Robert Mueller has referred a collection of cases to New York federal prosecutors concerning whether several high-profile American lobbyists and operatives failed to register their work as foreign agents, according to people familiar with the matter.
The transfer of the inquiries marks an escalation of Mueller's referrals to the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York in the period since he turned over a case involving President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
Since the spring, Mueller has referred matters to SDNY involving longtime Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and his work for his former firm, the Podesta Group, and former Minnesota Republican Rep. Vin Weber and his work for Mercury Public Affairs, the sources said.
But wait! It gets better!
[PJMedia] Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team appeared to struggle in front of federal judge T.S. Ellis on day two of the fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in Alexandria, VA, Wednesday.
The 78-year-old Reagan-appointed judge rebuked Mueller's prosecutors repeatedly, casting doubt on the strength of their arguments.
It is looking increasingly possible that Manafort, who is facing charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, making false statements, and working as an unregistered agent of the government of Ukraine, may end up prevailing in court, making the special counsel look foolish(er).
Mueller's prosecutors stunned the courtroom when they told the judge they may not put their "star witness" Rick Gates on the stand to testify against Manafort, his former business partner.
While prosecutor Uzo Asonye was questioning an FBI agent about a financial document authored by Gates, Judge Ellis interrupted the testimony to ask why the agent was being asked about the document and not its apparent author.
"He may testify in this case, your honor, he may not," Mr. Asonye answered.
This revelation reportedly set off a stampede of reporters out of the courtroom to report the stunning news.
"That's news to me and about 25 others who scurried out of here like rats on a sinking ship," Judge Ellis told Asonye. I like this judge
The prosecutor told the judge that the evidence presented would "determine which witnesses testify," prompting a sharp rebuke from the judge.
"You know who you are going to call," he said. "If you are going to call Mr. Gates, this is a waste of time."
It turns out, the defense was looking forward to cross-examining purported liar/crook/embezzler/snitch Gates, who is suspected of being willing to say whatever Mueller's team wants in exchange for leniency. Why does it seem that they are just throwing everything out there and hoping it sticks?
Maybe they don't have shit? Or were hoping for a demoncrat judge and jury.
Democratic Socialists of America, and other progressive organizations operating in the Bay Area. Attendance for the event was larger than anticipated, with 400 to 500 individuals having RSPV'd to attend, forcing organizers to move to a larger venue. Tickets ranged between $10 to $50 and the event was reported to have raised $15,000 for the candidate.
Whoo-eee! All the big spenders! Where was Soros when Alexandria needed him?
[FoxNews] Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors were lectured by a federal judge on Wednesday for the language they've used in the courtroom and more, as the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort entered its second day. Not the first time this century Mueller has been scolded in court by a judge.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III specifically told prosecutors to stop using the word "oligarch" to describe wealthy Ukrainians, whose dealings with Manafort are at the heart of the fraud charges he faces in northern Virginia federal court.
The judge said the term has a "pejorative" meaning and is not relevant in this case. Further, he cautioned that using it could suggest Manafort is associated with bad people ‐ and guilty by association.
"It's not the American way," the judge said. He noted that wealthy donors like George Soros or the Koch brothers also could be considered oligarchs.
The Mueller team was later rebuffed again by Ellis when they tried to introduce photos that eventually would become public of Manafort’s closets filled with suits and high-end clothing.
While it's part of their effort to paint Manafort as a tax scofflaw who spent big on luxury items, Ellis would not allow the photos for now.
"Enough is enough. We don't convict people because they have a lot of money and throw it around," he said. Not if the demoncrats have their way. They are supposed to have lots of money.
The judge said the photos would seem "unnecessary, irrelevant" and potentially "prejudicial." Further, he reminded the lawyers that Manafort "is not on trial for having a lavish lifestyle, but for not reporting income on his taxes."
Ellis has scolded members of Mueller's team before, asserting back in May that the team was really interested in targeting President Trump.
But the case is proceeding, in the first trial arising from the Mueller probe.
The Manafort charges do not relate to allegations of Russian meddling or collusion with Trump figures in the 2016 campaign, but rather focus on allegations that Manafort cheated on his taxes and engaged in other fraudulent activity.
The opening day focused heavily on the defendant's lavish lifestyle, as prosecutors said he lied to put his money ahead of the law. Defense attorneys -- and even the presiding judge -- reminded jurors that exorbitant wealth, in itself, is not a crime.
His defense team's opening day strategy was to try and undermine the Mueller team's star witness, Rick Gates, who was Manafort's deputy in business and at the Trump campaign.
The attorneys argued Gates was the one who transferred all the money into accounts, including consulting fees collected from Ukrainian political figures. They said he was embezzling money and later lied about it to investigators ‐ before agreeing to flip and testify against Manafort.
But the Mueller team contends Manafort bankrolled a luxurious globe-trotting lifestyle with money he wasn’t paying taxes on.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye told the jury Tuesday that Manafort considered himself above the law as he funneled tens of millions of dollars through offshore accounts to pay for personal expenses such as a $21,000 watch and a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich.
"All of these charges boil down to one simple issue: that Paul Manafort lied," Asonye said. "Manafort placed himself and his money over the law." Well, funny thing is you will need proof. Not just pictures of his expensive stuff.
If the Mueller team is trying to make a big deal about and lead with Manafort’s apparent wealth— rather than merely noting it as a circumstantial point— then they probably have little, if anything, of actual substance.
Supposedly, Manafort had these charges brought against him eight years ago. He was exonerrated by Rosenstein at the time. It should get interesting if Manafort's attornies call Rosenstein as a witness to ask him why he exonerated Manafort eight years ago.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.