No Investigating Crimes Outside Russian Interference Without Permission
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is putting Robert Mueller on notice in a very public way, warning the Special Counsel not to investigate potential crimes outside the scope of Russian interference without permission.
"If special counsel Robert Mueller finds any crime outside the scope of the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, then he’ll have to seek permission, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Sunday.
“Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation, and so no, it’s not a fishing expedition,” he told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
Rosenstein appointed Mueller to oversee the federal Russia probe, which includes a search for possible collusion with the Trump campaign, back in May after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case, Rosenstein ultimately was given the power to hire, and fire if he has good reason, Mueller.
It has been reported that Mueller’s investigation has expanded to look at the finances of Trump and his associates, giving rise to concerns that Mueller could make it the focus of the probe. Rosenstein seemed to dismiss this issue.
Asked if there were no red lines under the terms of his order, Rosenstein said that the investigation is subject to the rules and regulations of the Justice Department.
If there’s evidence of a crime that’s found within the scope of what they have agreed, then Mueller has free rein, Rosenstein explained. If it’s outside the scope of the probe, then “he needs to come to the acting attorney general, at this time me, for permission to expand his investigation,” he added. Rosenstein noted this as a precedent, which was also followed by independent counsel Ken Starr during the Clinton years.
Rosenstein’s warning comes amid reports Mueller requested the White House to supply documents in relation to retired Lt. Gen Michael T. Flynn and the Turkish government.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is calling on the Trump administration to hand over documents in relation to retired Lt. Gen Michael T. Flynn. Mueller is demanding the documents in order to investigate potential secret payments to Flynn by the Turkish government.
Investigators working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, recently asked the White House for documents related to former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, and have questioned witnesses about whether he was secretly paid by the Turkish government during the final months of the presidential campaign, according to people close to the investigation.
Though not a formal subpoena, the document request is the first known instance of Mr. Mueller’s team asking the White House to hand over records.
In interviews with potential witnesses in recent weeks, prosecutors and F.B.I. agents have spent hours poring over the details of Mr. Flynn’s business dealings with a Turkish-American businessman who worked last year with Mr. Flynn and his consulting business, the Flynn Intel Group.
The company was paid $530,000 to run a campaign to discredit an opponent of the Turkish government who has been accused of orchestrating last year’s failed coup in the country.
Investigators want to know if the Turkish government was behind those payments — and if the Flynn Intel Group made kickbacks to the businessman, Ekim Alptekin, for helping conceal the source of the money.