Judge in Manafort trial: 'I was probably wrong' to criticize prosecutors

The judge in the criminal trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortTrial of ex-Obama White House counsel suddenly postponed Top Mueller probe prosecutor to join Georgetown Law as lecturer DOJ releases notes from official Bruce Ohr's Russia probe interviews MORE on Thursday reportedly told jurors he was wrong for criticizing prosecutors earlier in the week.

Judge T.S. Ellis said he was “probably wrong” for criticizing prosecutors over one of their witnesses, IRS revenue agent Michael Welch, being in the courtroom observing the trial leading up to his testimony, according to CNN.

Manafort prosecutors get what they wanted:
Judge Ellis tells the jury he was wrong in criticizing prosecutors yesterday for having a witnesses, an IRS agent, in the room to hear other witness testimony.

“Put aside any criticism. I was probably wrong in that," Ellis said

— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) August 9, 2018

On Wednesday, Ellis reportedly scolded prosecutors in front of jurors over Welch’s presence in the courtroom, saying he doesn’t allow witnesses to watch trials. But prosecutors said they had previously received Ellis’s approval to have Welch in the courtroom, something transcripts confirmed, according to Politico.


“Well, let me be clear: I don't care what the transcript says," Ellis reportedly said. "Maybe I made a mistake. But I want you to remember: don't do that again.”

Before the trial resumed on Thursday, prosecutors filed a motion requesting that Ellis, a Reagan appointee, walk back his comments and tell jurors that the prosecution had done nothing wrong, according to NBC News.

Tensions have been evident between Ellis and prosecutors throughout the trial. On Tuesday, for example, the judge suggested to a prosecutor that his eyes were welling with tears. He also previously criticized prosecutors for presenting too much evidence related to Manafort’s spending habits.

The trial of Manafort, who is charged with multiple financial crimes, is the first major courtroom test for special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE’s team.