Trump hails judge's comments on Mueller

Trump hails judge's comments on Mueller

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE lauded a federal judge on Friday for his recent comments questioning the prosecution of former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDemocrats return to a battered Trump Manafort's legal team argues NY prosecution constitutes double jeopardy Clip surfaces of Paul Manafort and wife on Nickelodeon game show MORE

Speaking to a crowd at the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum in Dallas on Friday, the president read news clippings of the comments made earlier that day by U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, who was appointed by former President Reagan. 
 
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Trump blasted the entire special counsel investigation as a "witch hunt," praised Ellis by saying he is "really something very special," and highlighted the judge's comment that Manafort's tax and bank fraud charges were "unrelated" to his work on the Trump campaign. 
 
“We have the best employment numbers we’ve virtually ever had, yet all we hear about is this phony Russia witch hunt," Trump said. 
 
“Let me tell you folks, we are all fighting battles, but I love fighting these battles. It's really a disgrace.”
 
During a hearing Friday morning in Manafort's federal case, Ellis pushed a lawyer on Mueller's team on whether the true aim of the case against the former Trump official is to pressure Manafort into giving him information on the president. 
 
“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud,” Ellis said to prosecutor Michael Dreeben. 
 
“You really care about getting information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment.
 
"That's what you're really interested in.”
 
But while Ellis questioned the prosecutor's motivation, he said the charges were not necessarily "illegitimate." 
 
Trump has expressed deep skepticism about the special counsel's investigation, repeatedly criticizing Mueller and calling for the investigation to end.