Democrats are trashing a federal judge at the heart of Robert Mueller's probe into alleged collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign in the 2016 election, accusing the judge of "unprofessional" behavior for questioning the scope of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's power.
At a hearing Friday, Judge T.S. Ellis scorched Robert Mueller's legal team, accusing them of "lying" and seeking "unfettered power." Ellis, who is overseeing the case against Paul Manafort, said it appeared Mueller was using unrelated charges against Manafort to try and score testimony they could use to effect impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said he's "concerned" the judge would question Robert Mueller's motives. His Democratic colleague, Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) called Judge Ellis "outrageous."
"It does concern me," Schiff said, that "the judge [is] questioning the motives of the special counsel."
"While it’s certainly within the judge’s prerogative to ask these questions, I don’t think it really bears on the legal issues," Schiff continued. And so I think that Bob Mueller will prevail, in the sense of being able to go forward with this litigation. I don’t think there is really any legal question about that. But, yes, it is concerning that the judge would express this opinion."
Schiff also attacked the judge for asking how much Robert Mueller's probe is costing taxpayers.
"I’m not sure that it is germane, for example, for the judge to be asking how much Bob Mueller has spent on the investigation," Schiff told CNN's Jake Tapper during an appearance on Sunday's State of the Union. "Mueller is well within his jurisdiction. I can understand the judge asking certain of these questions, although some seem to be non-germane to the legal issues involved."
Rep. Connolly said it's "outrageous" for Judge Ellis to question the scope of Mueller's power and he shouldn't be allowed to do so.
"I think that was an outrageous statement from the bench," Connolly said. "I don’t think any judge should be saying that kind of thing. Robert Mueller has impeccable credentials. He’s a Republican!"
"It is an absurd statement, it was inappropriate and unprofessional and that kind of language from the bench is simply not professional," Connolly continued. "What he did today, I think, was way overboard."
Meanwhile, when Republicans sought to publish the so-called FISA memo showing how questionable methods were employed to win surveillance of a Trump campaign aide, Schiff called it a "great disservice to these hard-working people working to protect our country."
After Trump tweeted that America's justice system is a "joke," Schiff responded: "He’s trying to discredit the justice system. He’s also trying to discredit the media. And these assaults on our mainstream institutions are having an effect, they are eroding confidence. And I think that’s a tremendous disservice."