The DOJ has released the long-awaited Mueller scope memo, revealing the probe went beyond previously known mandate.
Fox News reports the Justice Department on Wednesday released a mostly unredacted version of then-Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s August 2017 “scope memo” outlining the authority of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller — and the document reveals for the first time that Mueller’s authority went significantly beyond what was known previously.
Rosenstein, who later left the Justice Department for a law firm, oversaw Mueller’s probe and played a central role in its still-unfolding drama. He was the subject of a two-page memo written by then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe that outlined how Rosenstein allegedly proposed wearing a wire in the White House “to collect additional evidence on the president’s true intentions,” and thought the scheme was plausible because “he was not searched when he entered the White House.” Rosenstein has denied those allegations and slammed the FBI.
Previously, it had been revealed that in May 2017, Rosenstein authorized Mueller to probe “i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; [and] iii) any other matters within the scope of [obstruction of justice laws].”
But, Rosenstein’s later August 2017 scope memo had remained largely redacted. The newly released version of the document makes clear that Rosenstein didn’t hesitate to explicitly authorize a deep-dive criminal probe into the Trump team that extended well beyond Russian interference efforts.
In the case of George Papadopoulos, a low-level former Trump foreign policy aide, Mueller was authorized to probe whether there had been a “crime or crimes” committed when he allegedly acted “as an unregistered agent of the government of Israel,” the new, lesser-redacted scope memo states.
That referred to a possible offense under the Foreign Agents Registration Act [FARA] — a little-known statute which, from 1966 to 2015, had been utilized only seven times. But, FARA prosecutions have picked up dramatically in recent years, and prosecutor Brandon L. Van Grack was appointed to head up the new FARA unit at the DOJ in 2019.
Since then, Van Grack has been under scrutiny for claiming to a federal court that he had turned over all relevant exculpatory informing involving former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn — even though a slew of exculpatory documents surfaced last week, including a top official’s handwritten memo debating whether the FBI’s “goal” was “to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”
Van Grack, it also emerged this week, failed to provide evidence to Flynn’s attorneys that anti-Trump former FBI agent Peter Strzok intervened to instruct the FBI case manager handling the Flynn investigation to keep the probe open, even after the Washington field office of the FBI wanted to close the case for lack of evidence. Another Strzok text mentioned that the FBI’s “7th floor” – meaning FBI leadership – may have been involved in the decision to keep the Flynn case alive.
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