There is an interesting disclosure in the filing this week by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last August expanded the mandate for Mueller in allowing him to pursue collusion allegations against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as well as criminal conduct linked to his controversial dealings with Ukraine. The expansion shows not only the close supervision by Rosenstein but the care taken by Mueller not to exceed his mandate, which was already quite broad. The disclosure comes in the week with the first scheduled sentencing of a Mueller defendant. Warning: the story below contains foul language.
The disclosure came after Manafort challenged Mueller’s authority to pursue the criminal allegations against him — allegations wholly removed from both the election and Trump. The memo by Rosenstein allowed Mueller to investigate allegations that Manafort ‘‘committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials’’ to interfere with the presidential election. It also specifically authorized Mueller to investigate any crimes linked to payments Manafort received from the Ukrainian government during the tenure of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
We have still not seen any charges connected to collusion allegations on the campaign though this week it was disclosed that Mueller is investigating the close Trump adviser Roger Stone’s alleged ties to the head of Wikileaks, which released many of the Clinton emails.
Stone and his former aide Sam Nunberg have been grabbing headlines with increasingly bizarre statements. Recently, Stone denounced Nunberg as a “lying ashole” and “psycho” and “coke head.”
It is a bad combination to watch former advisers falling out while Mueller steadily plows ahead with expanded powers. Nevertheless, the memo shows both Mueller and Rosenstein playing by the book as they delve into these various allegations.
Here is the order expanding the mandate: Rosenstein Order