ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III is now among the privileged few who know the full, approved scope of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Ellis is presiding over one of two upcoming trials of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on multiple charges of bank and tax fraud stemming from political work he did for the Ukrainian government.
Last month, prosecutors publicly filed a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in August 2017, giving Mueller authority to investigate Manafort for matters other than his involvement in the Trump campaign.
But Ellis said he wants to see the whole memo, without deletions, as he considers Manafort’s request to jettison at least some of the charges against him.
Prosecutors provided the full memo, under seal, to the court on Thursday morning.
Last month’s filing revealed Rosenstein granted Mueller the power to investigate Manafort’s financial and professional ties to Ukraine’s government and more specifically, its president Viktor Yanukovych.
Ellis expressed skepticism of Mueller’s intent during a motion hearing on May 4, at one point telling prosecutors he saw no relation between Manafort and special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling.
Ellis told Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben during the hearing he would remain unconvinced of anything until he saw the memos in full.
Manafort’s trial in Virginia, where he also faces a charge of failing to register as a foreign agent, gets underway in July but another motion hearing has tentatively been scheduled in Virginia court on May 25.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the criminal case filed against Manafort in Washington, D.C., ruled Mueller did indeed have the authority to bring pursue conspiracy, money laundering and other charges filed against the one-time Trump confidante.