The Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2017 narrowed the scope of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, cutting short a probe into President Trump’s business ties to Moscow, The New York Times reported.
Then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein limited the investigation to exclude those ties without telling the FBI, according to the Times. Andrew McCabe, who served as deputy FBI director at the time, told the newspaper that Rosenstein did not tell him that he was limiting the probe, leading McCabe to believe special counsel Robert Mueller would investigate the president’s business connections. McCabe added that he would have tasked the FBI with that aspect of the probe had he known Mueller would not investigate it.
“We opened this case in May 2017 because we had information that indicated a national security threat might exist, specifically a counterintelligence threat involving the president and Russia,” McCabe told the Times. “I expected that issue and issues related to it would be fully examined by the special counsel team. If a decision was made not to investigate those issues, I am surprised and disappointed. I was not aware of that.”
When he installed Mueller as special counsel in May 2017, Rosenstein gave him the mandate of probing “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government” and the Trump campaign.
In private, however, Rosenstein directed Mueller to limit his investigation to any lawbreaking in connection with Russian election interference, the Times reported, citing former law enforcement officials.
As a result, Mueller built a team that predominantly investigated crimes rather than national security threats, McCabe told the Times, even though it was “first and foremost a counterintelligence case.”
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