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What ELSE did Rosenstein authorize Mueller to probe? Huge portions of memo green-lighting investigation of alleged 'collusion' by Manafort remain blacked out – and could even refer to Trump himself

  • Prosecutors filed an August 2017 memo on the scope and definition of special counsel Robert Mueller's authority 
  •  It was drafted by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and sent to Mueller
  • The memo explicitly authorizes Mueller to investigated allegations that Manafort was 'colluding with Russian government officials' on election meddling
  • Also mentions his payments from the Ukrainian government – before the election
  • The following three-quarters of a page of the memo is completely blacked out 
  • In addition to those specific matters, Mueller can consult Rosenstein about matters 'that otherwise may have arisen' during his probe 

A newly revealed memo about the scope of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe raises the possibility he has been granted express approval for multiple areas of inquiry that the public doesn't even know about.   

Rosenstein sent the memo, titled 'The Scope of Investigation and Definition of Authority,' to Mueller on August 2 of last year, less than three months after his public order appointing him, kicking off a probe that President Donald Trump has branded a witch hunt.

Two sentences in the document relate explicitly to former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort – but that section is both preceded and succeeded by blacked out text.

A former Watergate prosecutor tells celebrityrave.com the first section may well refer to President Trump himself. 

HAVE AT IT: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein penned a four-page memo to special counsel Robert Mueller outlining the scope of his Russia probe

HAVE AT IT: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein penned a four-page memo to special counsel Robert Mueller outlining the scope of his Russia probe

Prosecutors filed the memo in opposition to an effort by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to have Mueller's charges of money laundering and other crimes tossed out as an overreach of Mueller's original mandate.

On its second page, the heavily redacted memo lists areas that are 'within the scope of the Investigation at the time of your appointment.'

It then lists allegations that Manafort 'committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government's efforts to interfere with the 2016 election for President of the United States, in violation of United States law.'

WHO COULD THIS BE? The government blacked out the first elements of the investigation that Rosenstein green-lighted

WHO COULD THIS BE? The government blacked out the first elements of the investigation that Rosenstein green-lighted

OKAY TO LOOK INTO COLLUSION, UKRAINE: The inquiry into possible Manafort collusion with Russia constituted just a single sentence – and are followed by redacted material

OKAY TO LOOK INTO COLLUSION, UKRAINE: The inquiry into possible Manafort collusion with Russia constituted just a single sentence – and are followed by redacted material

CONSULT ME: Other areas of investigation that arise are to be cleared with Rosenstein's office

CONSULT ME: Other areas of investigation that arise are to be cleared with Rosenstein's office

The collusion allegation by Trump's former campaign chair – which would constitute a bombshell charge if it were ever brought forward – constitutes just a single one-sentence paragraph of the four-page memo.

Another allegation – alleged crimes out of payments Manafort received from the government of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych,' also constitutes just a single paragraph.

Based on the blacked material, 'It’s fair to infer from this that there are other investigations – some of which may not even be public at this point,' said former Watergate prosector Nick Akerman of Dorsey & Whitney, LLP. 

'The only reason they’re releasing this part of it is just to show that Mueller is totally within his authority on this. It’s a slam dunk,' he said. 

GREAT IDEA: President Trump has branded the probe a witch hunt and on Tuesday said it would be 'great' to have better relations with Russia

GREAT IDEA: President Trump has branded the probe a witch hunt and on Tuesday said it would be 'great' to have better relations with Russia

As for the paragraph before Mueller, he said: 'Maybe that’s the allegations relating to Donald J. Trump, I don’t know. Why wouldn’t it be? That gives him a quarter of a page' – the same amount of space given to Manafort.  

The charge about Ukrainian payments also appears to indicate that financial activities before the election by someone being examined as part of the Russia investigation are fair game for investigation – something that could apply to the financial background of others in Trump's orbit who are under scrutiny.

That unredacted portion is followed by text that is entirely blacked out that is three times as long as the now-public Manafort material.

UNDER PRESSURE: Paul Manafort, former campaign chair for Donald Trump, exits the District Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., on Thursday, March 8, 2018. Manafort entered a not guilty plea Thursday in federal court, where he faces 18 counts including bank fraud and tax fraud

UNDER PRESSURE: Paul Manafort, former campaign chair for Donald Trump, exits the District Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., on Thursday, March 8, 2018. Manafort entered a not guilty plea Thursday in federal court, where he faces 18 counts including bank fraud and tax fraud

Manafort is identified by both his first and last name on Page Two, indicating this is likely the first reference to him in the document.

That section is preceded by another portion, also blacked out, of equal length – indicating that the information on the scope of the probe could refer to a different person specifically marked for investigation.

'What you would find in these other things would be other investigations that cover at least a full page or more,' said Akerman. 'They're covering their bases and making sure that they're following the regulations totally to a tee which they are doing which means that Manafort's motion is completely frivolous,' he said.

The specific go-ahead from Rosenstein provides a level of protection from the type of motions Manafort's lawyers are filing. They are trying to dismiss the superseding indictment against him by saying the prosecution is outside Mueller's jurisdiction. 

Other areas of investigation that might have been codified could be the hack of Democratic National Committee emails, discussions of Russia sanctions, or any manner of people who have come under Mueller's focus, from longtime Trump associate Roger Stone to Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who both have been reported to be of interest to Mueller's investigators.

It is impossible to tell from the redacted version of the document filed with the court.

SPARE THE ROD: Rosenstein's original appointment – the one that was made public – authorized Mueller to investigate 'any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump'

SPARE THE ROD: Rosenstein's original appointment – the one that was made public – authorized Mueller to investigate 'any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump'

In addition to whatever approval was provided by Rosenstein, who has oversight of the probe due to Attorney Jeff Sessions' recusal, the memo provides a way for Mueller to probe 'additional matters that otherwise may have arisen or may arise directly from the Investigation.'

In that case, Rosenstein asks that he consult his office at DOJ for a determination of whether it is within the scope of his authority. 

Rosenstein's original appointment – the one that was made public – authorized Mueller to investigate 'any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,' along with other matters that 'may arise directly from the investigation.'

Trump has repeatedly denied there was any collusion between his campaign on Russia, and on Tuesday said it would be a 'good thing' if the U.S. had good relations and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who he called to congratulate on his election victory.

'I think I could have a very good relationship with Russia, and with President Putin, and if I did that would be a great thing, and there's also a great possibility that that won't happen. Who knows?' Trump said.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR celebrityrave

Journalist, writer and broadcaster, based in London and Paris, her latest book is Touché: A French Woman's Take on the English. Read more articles from Agnes.

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