August 7, 2017

Did Rod Rosenstein tamp down suspicions about the lack of constraint on the Mueller investigation?

On "Fox News Sunday" yesterday, Chris Wallace interviewed Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel. Here's the part of the interview that deals with the suspicion some people have that perhaps Mueller is inadequately constrained and out to take down President Trump. I've added boldface:
WALLACE: When you appointed Mueller, and you were the one who did, you had to sign an order authorizing the appointment of a special counsel, and you said that he was authorized to investigate any coordination with Russia and -- I want to put these words on the screen -- any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation. My question is, does that mean that there are no red lines that Mueller or any special counsel can investigate under the terms of your order, anything he finds?

ROSENSTEIN: Chris, the special counsel is subject to the rules and regulations of the Department of Justice, and we don’t engage in fishing expeditions. Now, that order that you read, that doesn’t detail specifically who may be the subject of the investigation... because we don’t reveal that publicly. But Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation and so, it’s not a fishing expedition.

WALLACE: I understand it’s not a fishing expedition, but you say any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation. In the course of his investigation of the issues that he is looking at, if he finds evidence of a crime, can he look at that?

ROSENSTEIN: 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 a permission to expand his investigation. But we don’t talk about that publicly. And so, the speculation you’ve seen in the news media, that’s not anything that I’ve said. It’s not anything Director Mueller said. We don’t know who’s saying it or how credible those sources are.

WALLACE: I mean, people ask about this, of course, because you had Ken Starr and Whitewater, and this began with a failed real estate deal in Arkansas and ended up with Monica Lewinsky. To expand, he would need to get approval from you to expand the investigation?

ROSENSTEIN: That’s correct. Just as did Ken Starr. You know, Ken Starr received an expansion we believe was initiated by the Department of Justice by Janet Reno that resulted in that investigation....
Watch the whole interview:

84 comments:

Bad Lieutenant said...

Did anyone ask him why Mueller is hiring all these (only these?) Democrat partisans as his investigative staff?

Bad Lieutenant said...

You know what else I don't like? All these simple humble honest bureaucrats wearing these fancy spread collar shirts and wedding knots. You know all that is new goods. Wonder what Mueller and his hires get paid.

Slouching towards Panem...

DKWalser said...

Ken Starr's investigation was supervised by the court. He received permission from a panel of judges to expand the scope of his investigation to include obstruction of justice and perjury arising from Clinton's response to the Paula Jones lawsuit (where he denied under oath having an affair with Lewinsky).

So, there were some restraints on Starr's investigation. However, few would argue those restraints were effective. Mueller operates under even less restraint than Starr did -- all we have is an "understanding" between Mueller and Rosenstein as to what the scope might be. If the scope of Starr's investigation wasn't effectively constrained by a panel of judges, why should we have any faith that Mueller's investigation would be restrained by an unwritten understanding by someone who worked in Obama's DOJ?

Chuck said...

Wasn't the Hillary Clinton Servergate investigation a byproduct of another investigation? Was that an inappropriate action by the DoJ? I think the only inappropriateness there was that Mrs. Clinton and her personal staff weren't criminally charged.

Ralph L said...

and we don’t engage in fishing expeditions.
Tell that to Scooter Libby. Fitzgerald already knew who leaked Plame's status before he started.

The Godfather said...

Shorter Rosenstein: Trust us.

Bonkti said...

If Mueller wishes to expand beyond Russia, doesn't that bring him back under the purview of Sessions?

Kate said...

At least it's an effort to assuage Train-er's concerns. It's nice to know someone is listening to the chatter. We'll see.

traditionalguy said...

The FBI has used a cover story of fighting crime and catching spies pushed by amazing propaganda, since J. Edgar started it 80 years ago . But it actually functions as a cover truth up two step that shuts down police investigations on command, and as Blackmail operation used to control government actors by using threats of exposure of what "we have in the Files."

And Mueller, Comey and Rosenstein are 100% in with that function.

Rae said...

AG Lynch, running onto the tarmac: "Wait, Bill! I have to tell you about my grandchildren!"

The problem for Rosenstein is that the previous AG tainted the reputation of the department. All departments are now seen as politically motivated.

Dems see that as a good thing.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Considering the problems with COmey's investigation into Hillary, the issues with federal employees actively working against Trump, the IRS and DOJ shenanigans under Pres Obama, and the what-appears-at-least-on-the-surface-to-be-a-biased-set-of-investigators, I have a very hard time trusting Mueller to handle this in a non-partisan fashion.

Rigelsen said...

One sign you don't have the Rule of Law (as opposed to the Rule of Lawyers): When prosecutors and judges exempt themselves from liability of even the worst miscarriages of justice but go after or uphold even de minimis errors of recollection as felony perjury. Yes, the Supremes sometimes stomps it down, but as long as prosecutors have no accountability, they will continue to act with authoritarian impunity. And often, the investigation itself is punitive enough and costly enough for the targeted, even if no indictment is ever issued.

And Rosenstein is confused as DKWalser points out. Kenneth Starr was appointed under the Independent Counsel statute, and thus supervised by the court, not the AAG. That statute was allowed to lapse under bipartisan agreement to tamp down on unaccountable fishing expeditions. However, that did not prevent James Comey from authorizing an unaccountable fishing expedition with Pat Fitzgerald in charge. Does Rosenstein have more common sense and spine than Comey did? Does Mueller than Fitz? We'll see.

If the investigation sticks with Flynn and Manafort, that may be the most reasonable outcome, if they find and lay out the evidence well. If it goes off into Trump org finances unrelated to the campaign or election cycle, Rosenstein is going to have something to answer for. However, collusion is a high bar that it's hard to see them making a case for.

All in all, the hysteria is not helpful. I just wish there were more voices among the so called leaders of Congress and the media to put in context how little of an impact that any of this actually had outside of revealing some facts that the press would prefer to have avoided simply because that dissemination might hurt the wrong person politically. I mean, the DNC's treatment of Sanders and pulling for Clinton should have a higher news value to any reasonable person than revealing details of a intelligence team targeting Iran. The former illuminates an injustice (or at least unfairness) while the latter is at least borderline treasonous. And yet, it is the former that gets all the opprobrium.

Laslo Spatula said...

Can anyone envision Robert Mueller NOT ending up finding a 'crime'?

It seems as if his career -- and his standing in Deep State --now depends on it.

No one ends something like this with "It ws a giant waste of time and money: sorry."

The question will be what motives are attributed.

Hillary was let off Comey's hook because of some variation of 'she didn't mean any harm".

And that kind of outcome seems the BEST Trump can hope for.

Watching Deep State make sausage.

I am Laslo.

David Smith said...

Further to Bad Lieutenant's "wedding knots" observation, I began reading Ian Fleming during the 1960 Presidential Campaign (when oh-so-dashing JFK revealed that he read James Bond novels to relax). I'm pretty sure (it has been 57 years since I read it) that it was in "From Russia With Love" that the oh-so-dashing 007 revealed that one can never trust anyone who ties a Windsor knot, a sign of an excessive sense of self-importance.

Big Mike said...

They always say "it's not a fishing expedition" just before it becomes incontrovertible that it is, in fact, a fishing expedition.

donald said...

Again, Monica Lewinsky did not have an affair with Bill Clinton. Her mouth was a depository for Bill Clinton's sperm. He didn't even know her name while it was happening.

Ralph L said...

However, collusion is a high bar
Exactly. What do they have to do to commit an actual legal crime, as opposed to political crime, and is there any evidence that that occurred?

Achilles said...

This "investigation" was started because of an illegal leak by Comey. There are hundreds of crimes being committed in an attempt to find a "crime" they can use to carry out a coup. The entire DC establishment considers itself above the law. Remember 93% of them voted for a proven criminal instead of Trump and have been leaking classified information ever since to a compliant media.

And yes, Pence would be considered part of the coup if this is carried out.

DC is wrong. They are not above the law.

Laslo Spatula said...

8:10 addendum...

It looks like it comes down to: will Deep State go for the kill, or will it settle for simply casting a shroud -- penumbra? -- of impropriety over the Presidency that will tie it down like Gulliver and the Lilliputians?

Does Deep State fear the People?

There is a lot of tinder on the ground, and Mueller is walking with a book of matches...

I am Laslo.

Ralph L said...

They always say "it's not a fishing expedition"
GHWB read my lips
Clinton most ethical admin ever
GWB no more nation building
BHO most transparent admin ever
Rep Cong repeal Ocare now
DJT ?

Pardon our cynicism.

rhhardin said...

The special counsel can expand the investigation if the justice department says he can, which means the justice department runs the president.

Laslo Spatula said...

The Lavrentiy Beria quote, as has been mentioned frequently, applies.

As I have said before: Maybe ending up like the Soviet Union is the best a people can hope for.

I am Laslo.

Are W said...

No, he did not tamp down because he cannot be trusted.

M Jordan said...

I was unimpressed with this Rosenstein character. He not only was ever-so-slightly smarmy with his constant "Chris" addresses, he was weak on the law, weak on how much latitude he allowed Mueller in his initial scope statement, and weak on journalists.

I don't trust him.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

The problem (for the Democrats) is the Left has been hysterically pissing all over itself since last November. Even if Mueller did discover some impropriety what would, effectively, change? Some underling has to hire a lawyer? MSNBC and the NYT say harsh things about Trump? Oh, dear!
The Democrats get to foam about Golden Showers and Trump gets to hamstring the regulatory state. Sounds like a fair deal.

Lem said...

I'm afraid we're going to find out what the "special" in "special counsel" really means.

We know what a "special election" means.

clint said...

Yes, he tamped down suspicions.

But only for those who believe that on-the-record comments from the people in charge are more credible than second-hand anonymous sources.

So not really.

Humperdink said...

It appears the lefties have slept in this morning. Waiting for the:

> Trump will be impeached (and convicted).
> Kushner, Donald Jr., going to jail.
> Flynn will flee to Turkey.
> Manafort will plea bargain and implicate everyone.

Michael K said...

No one ends something like this with "It ws a giant waste of time and money: sorry."

No and nobody expects it to. Democrats were almost as hysterical about Bush. Remember"frog marching Cheney?"

Fitzgerald had to find something and he conjured up a phony perjury charge against Libby. That was all he could come up with.

Sebastian said...

When Dems are in charge, the DoJ fights for Dems--IRS, Fast & Furious, Clinton.

When GOP is in charge, the DoJ caves to Dems--pussy recusal. Rosenstein support for IC.

Give O this: a Rosenstein weasel wouldn't have lasted long under Holder/Lynch.

Of course, Mueller is conducting a fishing expedition: there was no crime to set it off, as required by law, there is no enforceable limit to its scope, Mueller has hired a partisan team, and recent leaks have already shown that he is fishing well beyond Russian involvement in the election. Leaving aside the Mueller/Comey relationship.

We cynical conservatives are just not cynical enough.

EDH said...

ROSENSTEIN: Chris, the special counsel is subject to the rules and regulations of the Department of Justice, and we don’t engage in fishing expeditions.

Matthew Sablan said...

The better "worst quotes of Modern Presidents" list:

GHWB: "Read my lips, no new taxes."

Clinton: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

GWB: "Now watch this drive."

BHO: "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan."

Still waiting on Trump.

Molly said...

Everyone should recognize that innocence is no protection: Scooter Libby, Tom Delay, Ted Stevens. All three had their careers severely damaged even though it was later determined that none of them committed any offense.

Fabi said...

Has there ever been a time when the FBI was credible or honest? They're nothing but thugs in cheap suits -- and Hoover in cheap dresses.

Matthew Sablan said...

"All three had their careers severely damaged even though it was later determined that none of them committed any offense."

-- Between that and the several other political "lawfare," a term I hate, even if it is somewhat apropos, against Perry and Palin, I'm perfectly fine just sitting with a "wait and see." Maybe Mueller will find something on this, but past history says to remain skeptical.

dda6ga dda6ga said...

No

Unknown said...

Whenever any President is elected, we should open a special investigation on inauguration day.

That way Sainted Liberal democrats will be investigated along with the normal administrations.

The Sword of Damocles country...

Michael K said...

"Maybe Mueller will find something on this, but past history says to remain skeptical."

Mueller will find that Flynn was sloppy and/or evasive in his Turkey lobbying and the Democrats will jump on that as evidence of Trump's "crimes." Manafort is probably too smart for them and his efforts were of the "good guy" type with Ukraine so he will stay clear.

The Democrats will claim any prosecution proves their point about Trump. They would really like to get into his taxes so they can demagogue it. They are already saying they want to see if Russians "financing" his buildings equal "blackmail."

If Rosenstein seems to give in, it may be time to go after Hillary's crimes. The backfire principle.

Dude1394 said...

"Whenever any President is elected, we should open a special investigation on inauguration day."

Sounds like the way things WILL be done from now on. The democrat media party (like the gutting of the filibuster) will get to play by the rules they and the nevertrumpers are creating.

If they actually manage to overthrow the president, the next one will not be as nice.

Now Is the Time! said...

These Deep State forces have been with us for hundreds of years. This punk RosenSTEIN with his fancy clothes looks like a Rothschild LOL!

Bad Lieutenant said...

Dear Dave,

Love you but not *quite*. It was FRWL but as to why:

Windsor knot - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windsor_knot
Fleming describes in detail Bond's reaction: "Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad". However, "Bond decided to forget his prejudice".

However, if you haven't memorized the books, good try :-)

Bad Lieutenant said...

Now Is the Time! said...
These Deep State forces have been with us for hundreds of years. This punk RosenSTEIN with his fancy clothes looks like a Rothschild LOL!

8/7/17, 9:54 AM



Oh, you're a moby. I see now.

tcrosse said...

If they actually manage to overthrow the president, the next one will not be as nice.

Kamala Harris ?

Mike Sylwester said...

Why did Rosenstein select Mueller?

Ask yourself this question:

Who is the one person in the whole world who is most motivated and able to white-wash the FBI in this matter?

Tommy Duncan said...

Blogger Laslo Spatula said...

The Lavrentiy Beria quote, as has been mentioned frequently, applies.


Is that quote that says "Show me the man and I'll find you the ham sandwich to indict"?

Birkel said...

I do wonder at some of the casual antisemitism I've been noticing. It very well may be a Moby effort intent on discrediting right-leaning (or not left-leaning anyway) points of view. It may be the real thing. Hard to tell.

In either case I find it troublesome.

AllenS said...

A "special counsel" that will never end.

CWJ said...

Matthew Sablan,

Why do you have the word lawfare?

Matthew Sablan said...

CWJ: My general hatred of smashing two words together in a portmanteau of a new word. See also: Hangry.

Ralph L said...

Birkel, it isn't casual anymore with the left wing.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

Laslo @ 8:10.

that.

John said...

In my more optimistic moments I sometimes wonder if PDT is playing the deep state.

While all this hoorah about the grand jury, investigation, meetings, collusion, etc is sucking up all the media, PDT is taking care of business. He has gotten a helluva lot done so far:

Illegal immigration way down
Illegals getting scared into leaving
$1.5bn approved to start the wall
800(#?) regulations repealed
Pipeline underway
Voter fraud commission percolating along nicely
Obamacare on the way to repeal by implosion. Instead of simply being lightened by the repos
Lots of new investment
Stock market way up

Everyone is too focused on RUSSIA!!! to pay any attention, much less make any attempt at, stopping him.

You go, my president Trump!

John Henry

CWJ said...

Matthew Sablan,

Got it! I don't even know what hangry is? However, for me lawfare captures the tactic perfectly.

Anthony said...

I'm pretty sure (it has been 57 years since I read it) that it was in "From Russia With Love" that the oh-so-dashing 007 revealed that one can never trust anyone who ties a Windsor knot, a sign of an excessive sense of self-importance.

Windsor looks more even, true, but a half-W is traditionally far more de rigueur.

John said...

One of the things that struck me odd about Comey's memo to file on the meeting with PDT is its unavailability.

We have a report, 4th hand, of what PDT said to Comey about Flynn. That was apparently only a sentence or two of a much longer memo. I have the impression that the NYT has the whole memo, why won't they share it?

Judicial Watch is suing under FOIA to get a copy of it.

So why can't we see the whole thing? Why can't we know the context for PDTs remarks about Flynn?

There is something fishy about the whole memo.

John Henry

Birkel said...

John Henry,
I too like the pace at which things are moving toward decentralization.

If Republicans support the bailouts of insurance companies in the failed ObamaInsurance scheme, I would bet on 4-5 successful primary challengers on the Republican side and a bunch of conservative outsiders beating Democrats.

Democrats will walk the plank to bail out the insurance companies. They will get pummeled in 2018 right alongside the eGOP.

Birkel said...

Hangry is one get hungry causing them to be angry.
Angry at being hungry.

Matthew Sablan said...

Lawfare captures it perfectly. Hangry is for when someone gets angry when they're hungry.

On the memo: I don't believe the NYT has the whole memo; Comey's friend claimed to have only read them some key excerpts over the phone (one of the *many* reasons they should have hesitated on publishing.)

John said...

I can't remember if LBJ favored the windsor or other knot but I do remember from Caro's books that he had very strong and earthy feelings about necktie knots and insisted that everyone tie his preferred style. Any other knot made a person look like a "pussy" and the necktie like a "limp dick".

OT but speaking of LBJ I just realized the other day that he was getting a warship named after him. A destroyer, the smallest warship we have.

Reagan, Kennedy, Bush even part term prez Ford all have aircraft carriers named after them. Even Carl Vinson, a congressman, has a carrier.

Missile subs used to be named for presidents so Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and many others had boats named after them.

Not to demean destroyers in any way at all, and especially not destroyermen, but it seems a bit of a slap in the face to LBJ's memory.

To which I say good. Slap away!

I would have preferred them to name a harbor tug after him. Disgusting man and president.

John Henry

John said...

Blogger Birkel said...

Democrats will walk the plank to bail out the insurance companies. They will get pummeled in 2018 right alongside the eGOP.

And Nancy Pelosi seems to know this and be fine with it. Last week, or the week before, she said it is not important that they take the House back. What is REALLY important is that they get their new message out. Something about "Better ingredients and better pizza".

John Henry

John said...

Excuse me, I got confused with Papa John.

the demmie message is "A Better deal" not a better pizza. Better than what they don't say.

Me, I'd prefer a pizza.

John said...

During an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," host Chris Wallace asked Pelosi to estimate the chances that Democrats win back the lower chamber back in 2018 and whether she would run again for speaker if they did.

"That's so unimportant. What is important is that we have the lively debate on a better deal," Pelosi said

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/pelosi-unimportant-to-win-midterm-elections/ar-AAp8dav?ocid=spartandhp

John Henry

Fabi said...

I'm hangry rat now!

Birkel said...

It's easier to be sanguine about your chances of majority when you're married to a near-billionaire and have no personal worries. The Democrats who walk the plank will have been promised perquisites for their political suicide.

And there will be fewer political suicides than should be, given the gerrymandering Democrats demand. A pickup of 8-10 House seats would be a bloodbath in my book.

Birkel said...

Fabi,
If you are hangry, order a Democrat pizza. It's a better deal and they won't let you decide which toppings you want. They'll order you to eat whatever they deliver.

Ann Althouse said...

"They always say "it's not a fishing expedition.""

Right. And Rosenstein comes out and says that if, when investigating what he's already investigating, Mueller encounters something new and then wants to investigate that, he can move on to that next thing. He won't have been "fishing" for anything. He just ran into it. He may need to come back to Rosenstein if it's anything that goes beyond what Rosenstein and Mueller already have an understanding about, but Rosenstein could then give him the authorization, just like Ken Starr had to come back and get more authorization as his investigation moved along. So the fact that it's not a fishing expedition isn't a safeguard against an expanding investigation.

And who knows what the understanding is between Rosenstein and Mueller. It's also a matter of principle that Rosenstein won't tell us!

Birkel said...

A secret understanding by and between law enforcement agents does not indicate Rule of Law.

Matthew Sablan said...

Pelosi stating it doesn't matter retaking the house should be a rallying cry for Dems to put someone in their leadership who *does* think it matters.

But they won't.

Ralph L said...

IIRC, the FBI files and Rose Law billing records were handed to Starr by Reno? because he was already in business, but he took Linda Tripp's tip to Reno, who bumped it to the 3 judges.

Hard to believe that was 20 years ago.

Feste said...

Relevance is a funny thing.

Fabi said...

And make you like it!

Bad Lieutenant said...

And who knows what the understanding is between Rosenstein and Mueller. It's also a matter of principle that Rosenstein won't tell us!

8/7/17, 11:11 AM


What if Rosenstein falls and hits his head and gets amnesia? Where is your unwritten understanding then?

Ray said...

Agree...

Swag - there will also be at least 2 GOP Senators not returning due to being primaried. And 3-4 Democratic losses in the Senate.

Plus McCain will be out by then.

My guess they will walk the plank due to resistance against Trump!

>Democrats will walk the plank to bail out the insurance companies. They will get >pummeled in 2018 right alongside the eGOP.

Michael K said...

"I would have preferred them to name a harbor tug after him. Disgusting man and president. "

At least he has had a body part named after him.

Everybody in the military, at least, knows what a "Johnson"is.

mtrobertslaw said...

In his Order appointing Mueller as special counsel, Rosenstein defined the scope of his investigation as "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation."

Now Rosenstein says the red line scope of Mueller's investigation is this: "if he finds evidence of a crime that's within the scope of of what Director Mueller and I have agreed is the appropriate scope of the investigation, then he can" investigate it.

Of course there is nothing stopping Mueller from claiming that the scope of his investigation that he and Rosenstein agreed is the scope that is defined in Rosentein's Order.

Was the definition language in Rosenstein" Order the result of incompetence or design?

Bad Lieutenant said...

1. Can any Arizonian discuss options to defeat Flake in the primary?

2. If the FBI is so deeply corrupted or otherwise fallible and simultaneously so adept at protecting itself that it has to be uprooted entirely, how could this be done?

EDH said...

Bad Lieutenant said...
What if Rosenstein falls and hits his head and gets amnesia? Where is your unwritten understanding then?

According to 1960s situation comedies, Ivanka schemes with Gilligan to strike him on the head again to restore his memory.

Michael K said...

1. Can any Arizonian discuss options to defeat Flake in the primary?

Kelli Ward has already announced against Flake.

I know little about her but she was a state Senator. I have heard good and bad.

If McCain quits or dies, we might have two women running. I would love to see Martha McSally run. She is my Congresswoman in Tucson and defeated Gabby Giffords' staffer two years ago.

I just don't know much about Ward. She did get 39% against McCain.

Bad Lieutenant said...

How about this J.D. Hayworth? Is he OK or a bum?

The thing is that Trump, not to mention other recent history, throws all these calculations out of whack. McCain has been rotting for decades, yes, but who could have thought that not just he but other Republicans wouldn't back the President? Apparently President Trump is not entitled to expect loyalty of his Administration, much less the other branches, but perhaps voters can ask on his behalf.

Eventually the question will be who can better progress President Trump's agenda, GOP or Dems? Or Other?

Humperdink said...

For the good of the state of AZ and for the good of the country, McCain should resign now and focus on his health issues. He won't because he's for McCain and no one else. What a first class jerk.

"How many houses do you own John?" "Beats me."

Michael K said...

JD Hayworth was the author of the bill that established the fence. Of course, as soon as the Democrats won Congress in 2006, the fence was canceled.

He had a talk show in Phoenix. I don't know what he is doing now.

rightguy2 said...

Can any Arizonian discuss options to defeat Flake in the primary?

Dr. Ward has a good reputation with the physician community in Lake Havasu City, a 98 % rating by the American Conservative Union, and she gave the super-annuated/past-his-sell-date McCain a decent run in 2016. Specifically, she is pro-life, pro-2nd amendment, and anti-Obamacare. She would be an improvement over either AZ senator.

SukieTawdry said...

John said...Not to demean destroyers in any way at all, and especially not destroyermen, but it seems a bit of a slap in the face to LBJ's memory.

Is a destroyer a bigger or smaller slap than a submarine?

Ralph L said...

They didn't name a submarine after Johnson to save her sailors' embarrassment. See Michael K at 1:12 pm.