According to the newspaper, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had ordered former special advocate Robert Mueller to examine “any connection and / or coordination between the Russian government” and the Trump campaign, but former officials of the Law enforcement officials said that in private, Rosenstein told Mueller to only conduct a criminal investigation.
The revelation is likely to fuel further scrutiny from Democrats who have long argued that the scope of the president’s ties to Russia has yet to be fully examined without interference.
Mueller had documented ample evidence in his March 2019 final report that Trump attempted to obstruct the Russia investigation in several ways and refused to make a charging decision. According to a policy of the Department of Justice, a sitting president cannot be charged.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who started the counterintelligence investigation, told The Times Rosenstein never told him about his decision.
A simple criminal investigation, McCabe told the newspaper, was not the right approach for the situation.
“It was above all a case of counterintelligence,” he said. “Could the president really be the focal point between the campaign and the Russian government? Could the president really maintain some sort of inappropriate relationship with our most important adversary in the world? ”
The Times report comes a week after the Senate Intelligence Committee released the most comprehensive and meticulous review yet of how Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election and the Trump campaign hosted the aid from the foreign adversary, revealing new information about contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates during and after the campaign.
Unlike Mueller’s report, which focused on issues of criminal conduct, the committee’s report detailing the findings of his counterintelligence consists of hundreds of pages of fact that the panel obtained, drawing conclusions in places where Mueller often stopped to do it.