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By Kevin Daley
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible collusion between foreign elements and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign may expand to include Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein.
Rosenstein told the Associated Press that Mueller’s probe could include the role he played in the dismissal of former FBI director James Comey last month, as well as Sessions’ own involvement in the decision.
“The order is pretty clear,” Rosenstein said. “It gives him authority for the investigation and anything arising out of that investigation, and so Director Mueller will be responsible in the first instance for determining what he believes falls into that mandate.”
The deputy AG wrote a memorandum criticizing Comey’s handling of the investigation of former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. Sessions signed off on the memo and relayed it to the White House for the president’s review.
In the immediate aftermath of Comey’s dismissal, White House officials brandished Rosenstein’s memo as the basis for the director’s firing. President Trump later told NBC’s Lester Holt that he had decided to relieve Comey of his duties before requesting the memo. Rosenstein himself reportedly threatened to resign over the administration’s handling of the incident, a claim he later denied.
Given Sessions’ recusal from the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign, the deputy AG made the decision to appoint Mueller as special prosecutor. If implicated in the investigation, Rosenstein said he would recuse himself from any oversight of Mueller’s office.
“I’ve talked with Director Mueller about this,” Rosenstein told the AP. “He’s going to make the appropriate decisions, and if anything that I did winds up being relevant to his investigation then, as Director Mueller and I discussed, if there’s a need from me to recuse I will.”
Sessions appeared in campaign settings to speak on the Trump’s behalf during the election season and advised the campaign on immigration policy. Rosenstein, a career official at the Department of Justice, was not involved in the campaign.