Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to the Justice Department Friday demanding Rosenstein’s unredacted memo detailing Mueller’s scope.
In Chairman Grassley’s letter to the DOJ, he noted Mueller’s team had just given Rosenstein’s memo to Judge Ellis therefore the Senate Judiciary Committee should be permitted to review the document.
Grassley also criticized the time frame in which the memo was penned by Rosenstein–three months after Mueller was appointed.
It’s also important to note that the FBI raided Paul Manafort’s home with guns drawn, several days before Rosenstein wrote his August 2nd memo.
It is no surprise then that a federal judge in a May 8, 2018 hearing in the Eastern District
of Virginia expressed some skepticism about a heavily redacted August 2017 memorandum that
was drafted three months after you issued the Order appointing Robert Mueller as Special
Counsel, and that you both now assert details the actual scope of his investigation.2
The judge asked for, and the Special Counsel provided, an unredacted copy of the August Memorandum.3
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 also quoted Judge Ellis in his letter to Rosenstein and said Americans do not support anyone in this country wielding unfettered power. “That is doubly true when it is wielded in secret, beyond the purview of any oversight authority,” Grassley continued.
In the Starr investigation, the scope and changes
made to it were transparent. In this case, the public, Congress, and the courts all thought the
scope was one thing, and have now been informed it is something else. For that reason and
others, it is unclear precisely how, or whether, the Department is following its own regulations,
what the actual bounds of Mr. Mueller’s authority are, and how those bounds have been
Chairman Grassley then accused Rosenstein of deliberately drafting a vague jurisdiction and hiding the details with heavy redactions:
In other words, the factual statement of the matter to be investigated in the Appointment
Order was made deliberately vague rather than “specific” as required by the regulation. The
public, as well as Congress, only learned a fraction of the investigation’s actual scope in April
2018—nearly a year after Mr. Mueller’s appointment—when he filed a heavily redacted copy of
the August Memorandum in federal court. From the small snippet we can see, the difference in
the number and the nature of the details described in the Appointment Order and three months
later in the August Memorandum is significant.13 Even if there may be legitimate reasons to
limit the public release of that information for a time, those reasons would not justify
withholding the scope information from Congressional oversight committees.
The Department of Justice has until May 31st to hand over the unredacted Rosenstein memo: they also must answer a long list of questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman.
Read Grassley’s full letter to the Justice Department here.