Mueller can pursue whatever crimes that are unrelated to the original Russia inquiry that he uncovers

DOJ order written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller as Special Counsel:

ORDER NO. 3915-2017
By virtue of the authority vested in me as Acting Attorney General, including 28 U.S.C.
§§ 509, 510, and 515, in order to discharge my responsibility to provide supervision and
management of the Department of Justice, and to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the
Russian govemmenfs efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, I hereby order as
(a) Robert S. Mueller III is appointed t() serve as Specia] Counsel for the United States
Department of Justice.
(b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confinned by then-FBI
Director James 8. Corney in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:
(i) any links and/or coordination bet ween the Russian government and individuals
associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and
(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

Great article by The Atlantic:

President Trump is reportedly apoplectic over the possibility that Special Counsel Robert Mueller might look into his finances—specifically his tax returns—as part of Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump suggested in a New York Times interview that would constitute a possible “violation,” and according to the The Washington Post the president is already looking into whether he can pardon associates, family members, and himself.

But there are no legal or ethical reasons for Mueller to turn away if, during his investigation, he discovers crimes that are unrelated to the original inquiry.

“Mueller is the Department of Justice for the purposes of this investigation,” said John Q. Barrett, a former assistant counsel in the special prosecutor’s office during the Iran-Contra affair who is now a law professor at St. John’s University.


Crucially, the order written by Rosenstein establishing the special-counsel investigation is very broad. It states that the special counsel is “authorized to conduct the investigation” that  includes “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

“The special counsel has to look into matters under his jurisdiction,” said Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general under the Obama administration and Georgetown Law professor who wrote the special-counsel regulations. “So if Trump family financial matters are relevant to the Russia investigation, he would have to look into them. And the regulations do not permit the president to define the scope of the investigation.”

Depending on whether what Mueller discovered was closely related to the original investigation, he might have to consult with Rosenstein before going further. But there are no legal or ethical bars to him pursuing the investigation wherever it leads.

“I think that that’s fairly broad as a conferral of jurisdiction,” said Barrett. “If in the course of doing investigation A, you find leads or evidence to crime B, ordinary federal law-enforcement jurisdiction is yours. After consultation with supervision, which I guess would be Rosenstein, you expand into the new area, depending on its significance.”


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