Trey Gowdy just placed the buck squarely where it belongs.
In a Fox News interview Tuesday, House Oversight Committee chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., blamed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for the broad purview of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Fox News host Martha MacCallum observed that the scope of investigation for special counsels often goes beyond their original purpose, and asked Gowdy if he believed that would be the case with the Mueller team.
“You have seen special counsels in the past leave their purview and the investigation goes on for a long time, the next thing you know, you are investigating a Monica Lewinsky case when the president didn’t even know her when the special counsel began his work,” MacCallum said. “You don’t have any fear of that here?”
Gowdy claimed the probe has already wandered, but did not blame Mueller, who served as FBI director from 2001 to 2013.
“Do I have fear that jurisdiction may wander a bit? I think it already has,” the lawmaker asserted. “It has already wandered a little bit. But I would not blame Bob Mueller.
“I would blame whoever drafted the jurisdiction and the charter that empowered him. If you look at it, it says matters that may arise from the investigation. What the heck heck does that mean? Is that a bank robbery in Topeka, Kansas?”
“And that language came from Rod Rosenstein?” MacCallum asked.
“Yes ma’am,” Gowdy affirmed.
Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russia’s role in the 2016 election after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case, citing a Justice Department rule that says Department employees may not serve in investigations to which they have ties.
Sessions claimed that his role as a surrogate and adviser for the Trump campaign disqualified him from overseeing the Russia probe.
According to a House Intelligence Committee memo released publicly last week, Rosenstein was one of five top FBI and Justice Department officials – including former FBI director James Comey and former deputy director Andrew McCabe – who signed off on FISA applications to perform surveillance on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The memo also revealed that the unsubstantiated dossier by former British spy Christopher Steele – paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign–was used to obtain FISA warrants on Page.
The Mueller probe has extended the scope of its investigation into areas unrelated to the 2016 election, including arresting former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for money laundering and other activities performed years before working for the president.