Deputy Attorney General: Special counsel Mueller needs permission to expand Russia investigation


Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said on Sunday that the special counsel investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election needs permission from the Department of Justice to expand his investigation if he finds evidence of an unrelated crime.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 campaign and President Donald Trump's campaign's potential ties to Russia was "not a fishing expedition."

"If he finds evidence of a crime that is within the scope of what Director Mueller and I have agreed is the appropriate scope of this investigation, then he can," Rosenstein said. "If it's something outside that scope he needs to come to the acting attorney general, at this time me, for permission to expand his investigation."

Reaction to Robert Mueller's appointment to Russia investigation:

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Reaction to Robert Mueller's appointment to Russia investigation
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Reaction to Robert Mueller's appointment to Russia investigation
Trump statement https://t.co/uXbFDYpIqP
My statement on DAG Rosenstein's decisions to appoint a special counsel https://t.co/s7i5LjPcg1
.@SpeakerRyan Statement on the Appointment of Special Counsel https://t.co/YhKhf5YVcV
Appointment of special counsel is very positive. Mueller is a solid choice who will help reestablish public confide… https://t.co/IJnOCOnZIw
Robert Mueller’s appointment is a positive step. I am hopeful that he will help us get to the bottom of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
A special counsel is very much needed in this situation and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein has done the right thing.
(1/2) I support the appointment of Bob Mueller as special counsel for the Russia investigation. https://t.co/AUVNzmzUk6
(2/2) Bob Mueller was a great U.S. attorney & FBI director. He’s respected, talented and has the knowledge & ability to do the right thing.
Having known him for years, I believe special counsel Mueller is a very good thing. He is one of the best -- indepe… https://t.co/IUnElVxegr
Mueller is a great selection. Impeccable credentials. Should be widely accepted.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder on appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel in Trump/Russia affair: https://t.co/Sowez3yFyl
"He has the expertise and experience, and the guts and backbone to uncover truth," Sen. Blumenthal says of Robert M… https://t.co/gr11ooOMXl
Mueller is a good first step -- but can't take the place of an independent commission free from Trump's meddling. https://t.co/Dv6m4eC7xw
I commend @TheJusticeDept for taking the appropriate step of appointing a special counsel. https://t.co/tBgRzNrMGO
Robert Mueller's appointment as special counsel is a positive step. My statement: https://t.co/6pDM4z8hD4
Senator Collins’ statement on appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel #mepolitics https://t.co/Ku6hk5V75e
Murphy statement on appointment of special prosecutor for investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia https://t.co/yjvIckje66
My full statement on the appointment of Special Counsel to oversee #TrumpRussia investigation… https://t.co/aEphkfSnKs
Mueller does not erase the need for an independent commission. #ProtectOurDemocracy https://t.co/q3ev9tfMWf
.@RonWyden's statement on the appointment of special counsel https://t.co/3DAdwJvJem https://t.co/JV9b1DA3Iu
Here's my statement on appointment of a special counsel to lead FBI Russia investigation: https://t.co/vsGhi6yiXp
My statement on the appointment of a #SpecialCounsel to investigate the troubling #TrumpRussia ties: https://t.co/iGlCWjTxd0
I’m encouraged to see @TheJusticeDept has appointed a special counsel to lead the investigation into #TrumpRussia https://t.co/0WNjIEJSqw
Mr. Mueller is a man of integrity and well chosen. Must ensure he has resources necessary for a rigorous investigation #SpecialCounsel
Bob Mueller is a man of integrity. I have every confidence he will pursue this investigation and follow the facts,… https://t.co/ZYXnqF1QYu
The issue of Russian meddling in our election must be investigated fully & former FBI dir. Mueller is well qualified to oversee this probe.
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The deputy attorney general also pointed out that special counsel Kenneth Starr needed permission to expand his investigation during his probe into former President Bill Clinton's handling of a land deal.

Top Trump administration officials have dismissed the investigation and attempted to undermine Mueller's credibility.

Last week, White House special counselor Kellyanne Conway dubbed the investigation a "fishing expedition."

But Mueller has broader authority in the investigation than the White House may realize.

In appointing Mueller, Rosenstein gave him the authoritynot only to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated" with Trump's campaign, but also to examine "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation."

Rosenstein also gave Mueller the power to investigate "any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a)" — including perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses.

The mandate's scope is similar to that given by then-Acting Attorney General James Comeyto special counsel Patrick Fitzgeraldin 2003 to investigate who leaked the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Trump hasreportedly grown irritatedwith thefollow-the-money approachMueller has taken to the investigation. But it is easy to imagine why Trump's loans, debts, and business empire — which has benefited from money flowing out of Russia — would warrant Mueller's scrutiny as he tries to trace the origins of Russia's interest in the Trump campaign and determine whether Moscow holds any leverage over Trump or his associates.

"If we got a report that Mueller was investigating, say, the Trump University fraud case, that would signal that this is a roaming investigation with an axe to grind," said Andy Wright, a constitutional law expert and professor at Savannah Law School. "But everything we've seen so far in terms of what Mueller is looking at has had a nexus to the Russia investigation."

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