Understanding why special counsel Robert Mueller has widened his Russia investigation beyond the 2016 presidential election may require perusing a federal judge’s opinion on June 26 in the Paul Manafort case.
After District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III dissected Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s May 2017 appointment order to Mr. Mueller, he concluded that the prosecutor is empowered to look at virtually any Russian contact no matter how “stale” it is.
What’s more, Judge Ellis said, Mr. Rosenstein’s guidelines state that Mr. Mueller is to investigate any links between the Russian government and Trump campaign associates, which is expansive.
Citing Supreme Court rulings, he said “any links” also means “indirect links” or “potential links,” giving Mr. Mueller wide latitude when deciding whether to target a Trump person.
J.D. Gordon, a Trump campaign adviser, said such an expansive definition is why so many people find themselves sitting down with the FBI.