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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Robert Mueller outlines scope of Russia probe in court filing

Memo was filed in response to questions that the special counsel should not have “unfettered powers”

Mr Mueller, above, has indicted Paul Manafort in federal courts in Virginia and Washington DC with an array of allegations of money-laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent, to bank and tax fraud. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Mr Mueller, above, has indicted Paul Manafort in federal courts in Virginia and Washington DC with an array of allegations of money-laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent, to bank and tax fraud. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office on Thursday gave a federal court a classified memo describing the extent of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and other related crimes.

The memo was filed in response to questions raised in the court in Virginia two weeks ago by Judge TS Ellis that Mr Mueller should not have “unfettered powers.”

Mr Ellis demanded to see an unredacted copy of the August 2017 memo written by US deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein that defined Mr Mueller’s investigative mandate.

Ellis will review the memo before deciding whether or not to dismiss charges against President Donald Trump’s former election campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

Mr Manafort has argued that Mr Rosenstein granted the special counsel too much scope when he was appointed exactly a year ago, and that Mr Mueller is exceeding that authority.

The president’s allies have also accused Mr Mueller of exceeding the boundaries laid out by Mr Rosenstein and questioned whether he is authorised to pursue possible financial crimes committed by Mr Manafort and others.

Mr Mueller has indicted Mr Manafort in federal courts in Virginia and Washington DC with an array of allegations of money-laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent, to bank and tax fraud. Mr Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

The judge overseeing the Washington case earlier this week refused Mr Manafort’s request that he dismiss the charges there.

When Mr Mueller was appointed special counsel on May 17, 2017, Mr Rosenstein said the probe would include “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

Russia denies interfering in the 2016 election, and Mr Trump has said there was no collusion with the country.

In August, Mr Rosenstein authorised Mueller to investigate allegations that Mr Manafort may have “committed a crime or crimes arising out of payments he received from the Ukrainian government” before and while pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was in office.

Some of Mr Mueller’s actions remain under seal. He also has indicted more than 15 others, including 13 Russians and three Russian companies.

Five people have pleaded guilty, including former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has admitted making false statements to the FBI, and long-time Manafort business partner Rick Gates.

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