Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation Sunday, pushing back against the notion that Mueller has inappropriately expanded the scope of the investigation beyond his mandate.
“The special counsel is subject to the rules and regulations of the Department of Justice and we don’t engage in fishing expeditions. Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation, and so no it’s not a fishing expedition,” Rosenstein told Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
Mueller’s probe has reportedly expanded into examining possible financial crimes unrelated to Russian election interference. (RELATED: Mueller’s Probe Could End Up Leaking All Of Trump’s Personal Information)
Rosenstein’s comments come days after Mueller impaneled a grand jury in connection with his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible connections to the Trump campaign.
President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly slammed the investigation as a “witch hunt,” argued in a July interview with The New York Times that his financial transactions represented a red line that Mueller should not cross in his investigation.
Mueller does, however, have the authority to investigate Trump’s finances as part of the broad investigative mandate outlined in his appointment order. The appointment order empowers Mueller to investigate any matters that “arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Rosenstein also responded to questions related to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Friday announcement that the Department of Justice plans to make a concerted effort to prevent intelligence leaks by aggressively prosecuting those responsible. The announcement received immediate pushback from members of the press, who have questioned whether Sessions intends to prosecute journalists who publish leaked information.
“The attorney general has been very clear that we’re after the leakers, not the journalists,” Rosenstein said.
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