Chuck Ross, DCNF
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is asking the Justice Department for a document that lays out the full scope of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
In a letter sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on May 18, Grassley, an Iowa Republican, noted Mueller’s team recently provided a federal judge in Virginia with an unredacted copy of the memo, which Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote on Aug. 2, 2017.
The special counsel’s office provided the memo to Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman indicted for bank and tax fraud related to his work in Ukraine. Congress is also entitled to see the document, Grassley said.
“This Committee likewise should be permitted to review the true nature and scope of the special counsel’s investigation. Like the Judiciary, Congress is a separate branch of government with its own constitutional duties that often require access to Executive Branch information. In this case, the interests relate to both legislative and oversight responsibilities,” Grassley wrote in his letter to Rosenstein.
Mueller did not have the jurisdiction to investigation areas not related to possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government, Manafort’s team has argued.
Manafort’s lawyers have also questioned the timing of the memo, which Rosenstein wrote nearly three months after Mueller was appointed special counsel.
Several days before Rosenstein wrote the memo, Mueller executed a search warrant on Manafort’s Virginia residence. Manafort’s lawyers and other observers of the case have questioned whether the Rosenstein memo was written to retroactively provide cover for the Mueller raid.
Grassley also appears interested in the timing of the Rosenstein memo.
“The August Memorandum states that it addresses the special counsel’s authorization as of the date he was appointed. Why was this memorandum not drafted until August 2017?” Grassley asked.
Grassley has been a supporter of the Mueller investigation, the committee chairman noted. He has publicly warned President Trump against taking steps to shut down the investigation or fire Mueller.
“As I have said numerous times, that investigation should be free to follow the facts wherever they lead without any improper outside interference. However, that does not mean that it is immune from oversight or that information about the scope of its authority under existing Department regulations should be withheld from Congress,” Grassley said.