In light of a court briefing this week, it is now plainly clear the latitude and unfettered powers given to special counsel Robert Mueller by the Trump administration, according to analysis by The New York Times.
Mueller has the independence to take his Russia investigation wherever it leads, even into the bank accounts of people like Paul Manafort, whose petition to dismiss the charges against him — citing Mueller's overreach — ferreted out an August memo that provided the latitude by the Justice Department.
In the memo, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein expounded upon his original directive to Mueller, empowering him to dig into all aspects of investigating possible collusion with Russia.
Mueller has been operating under that purview the whole while; the rest of the world just found out this week.
"Manafort's fight over Mueller's authority goes to a central question in our republic, going all the way back to Plato's question, 'Who guards the guardians?'" Neal Katyal, a former Justice Department official, told the Times. "The central debate is how much independence do you want, versus how much accountability for the prosecution."
Rosenstein has previously asserted that Mueller is "not an unguided missile," and this week's surfacing of the August memo shows that, for better or worse for Rosenstein, he's in lock step with Mueller's probe.
"Mueller's lack of independence was viewed as a real problem, but now it's a response to any attack on the indictment," former federal prosecutor Julie O'Sullivan told the Times. "I do wonder, though, if he hasn't put Rosenstein in additional jeopardy."
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