Last week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
According to Fox News Sunday, Rosenstein told Fox News Host Chris Wallace that Mueller’s job is to investigate the allegations that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election — Mueller cannot look into matters unrelated to Russian meddling unless he receives approval from the Department of Justice. When asked if Mueller would be able to unilaterally investigate other potential crimes, Rosenstein said,
“Well, Chris, if he finds evidence of a crime that’s within the scope of what Director Mueller and I have agreed is the appropriate scope of the investigation, then he can. If it’s something that’s outside that scope, he needs to come to the acting attorney general, at this time, me, for permission to expand his investigation. But we don’t talk about that publicly.”
Last week, it was revealed that Mueller had impaneled a grand jury in the Russia investigation. Later, The Washington Post reported that the home of Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, had been raided by the FBI. At first glance, it appears the investigation might be heating up.
Wallace questioned Rosenstein on the potential meaning of a grand jury in this case. He asked if the impaneling of a grand jury indicates that there is a likelihood that Mueller might issue an indictment. Rosenstein stated that a grand jury does not necessarily suggest that there will be an indictment. He also said,
“Many of our investigations, Chris, involve the use of a grand jury. It’s an appropriate way to gather documents, sometimes to bring witnesses in, to make sure that you get their full testimony. It’s just a tool that we use like any other tool in the course of our investigations.”
While Rosenstein couldn’t comment on the investigation publicly, he did say that Mueller would not be allowed to look into matters that do not pertain to the Russia probe without Rosenstein’s approval. Wallace asked about the scope of the investigation for an obvious reason: Special Counsels have exceeded their mandate in previous administrations.
Wallace brought up Kenneth Starr, who was enlisted to investigate a real estate deal in which former President Bill Clinton had been involved, but ended up focusing on Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. Rosenstein stated that Starr had received an expansion from the Justice Department from former Attorney General Janet Reno.
The Russia investigation has been a source of controversy since last year when the intelligence community discovered that the Kremlin had attempted to influence the outcome of the election. They found that Russian hackers had obtained emails and other records from the Democratic National Committee. The information was given to WikiLeaks and exposed to the public.
The left has been pushing the notion that President Trump’s campaign had been colluding with Russian operatives to swing the results of the election in Trump’s favor. Some have even implied that Trump himself was involved with the collaboration. Since July of last year, no evidence has been found that shows collusion between Trump’s team and the Kremlin.
One of the main issues concerning Mueller’s investigation is that many on the right believe it is nothing more than a political witch hunt. They believe that Mueller is not interested in conducting a fair investigation — he is out to get Trump. Several conservatives have pointed to the fact that Mueller’s team is mostly made up of Democrats — four of which have given money to leftist politicians.
While we do not know if there are other crimes that Mueller might uncover in his investigation, it is clear that the controversy will not subside anytime soon.