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Judge backs off comments to prosecutors in ex-Trump aide Paul Manafort’s trial

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The judge in the trial of U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort expressed contrition on Thursday to jurors for harsh commentary directed at prosecutors.

“I may have made a mistake. It has nothing to do with your consideration in this case,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis said as the trial went into its eighth day in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

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Ellis has repeatedly prodded prosecutors to move swiftly while seemingly giving Manafort’s defense team more latitude. He also has repeatedly made comments that some legal experts said may prejudice the jury against the prosecution.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. He is the first person to be tried on charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

On Thursday, prosecutors in a legal filing asked the judge to correct some statements he had made on Wednesday.

Ellis had chastised the prosecution for allowing IRS agent Michael Welch to be present during court proceedings before taking his turn to testify.

Ellis has said he did not like having witnesses listen to the proceedings before they take the stand but the prosecution had previously requested case agents and experts be allowed. The prosecutors on Wednesday said Ellis had approved having them sit in, but the judge screamed at the lawyers in front of the jury, ‘”Don’t ever do that again.”

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On Thursday morning, Mueller’s team requested that Ellis issue a “curative instruction” to the jury, saying he has “mistakenly faulted” the prosecution. In a filing to the court, prosecutors said that on the first day of the trial, they had told Ellis that Welch would remain in the courtroom, and he had not objected then.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, Warren Strobel; editing by Doina Chiacu and Grant McCool

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Trump has spent 50 years trying to live up to his father — now his presidency will forever be stained: MSNBC panelist

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Rev. Al Sharpton said during his MSNBC show Sunday that the legacy of impeachment will forever be a stain on President Donald Trump's presidency. While a Democratic strategist pointed to Trump's history of always falling short.

"The fact is I've known Donald Trump for 35 years," Sharpton said during a panel discussion. "Marched on him after the Central Park Five. Had other times he would try to be a Democrat, would come to our National Action Network conventions. One of the things that is core to him is that he's always fought for legitimacy. He was never looked at as a peer by the legitimate business community in New York and around the country. Now for him to be impeached, even if he's not convicted and removed, it gives him the imprimatur from here out that he's illegitimate. There will always be the asterisk on his name that schoolchildren will read. Is this the reason we're seeing 170-some-odd tweets from Mr. Trump that he is feeling at the core that his legitimacy as a president will be permanently stained?"

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Conservative pens scathing op-ed with sarcastic defense of Republicans’ humiliating hypocrisy

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Conservative columnist Max Boot wasn't shocked when he saw Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) proclaim he had no intention of being an independent juror during President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. The Trump antagonist penned his Sunday column dripping with sarcasm.

His fellow conservative colleague, Jennifer Rubin, similarly said that no one expected anything better from Graham. Boot extended his disdain to the entire Republican Party.

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Americans still don’t know why Trump was rushed to Walter Reed hospital: ex-White House press secretary

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It's been three weeks since President Donald Trump was rushed to Walter Reed hospital, and former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart reminded his Twitter following that Americans still don't know what happened.

"It’s been 3weeks since the President made an unscheduled and rushed trip to Walter Reed. Americans have a right to know about the President's health and the WH explanations doesn’t pass the smell test. I hope there are still enterprising reporters on this. Democracy dies in the dark," Lockhart tweeted.

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