Wednesday, May 6, 2020

UPDATED: Rod Rosenstein's Second "Scope Memo" For Team Mueller

(h/t commenter EZ)

The Department of Justice has responded to Senator Lindsey Graham's request for

an unredacted copy of  the August 2, 2017 memorandum from then Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III regarding “The Scope of Investigation and Definition of Authority” (“Scope Memo”). 

You may recall that Rod Rosenstein's initial authorization letter for a Special Counsel, dated May 17, 2017, outlined the scope of Team Mueller's authorized investigation in the broadest terms. Basically that letter stated, in a guarded fashion, that Mueller was to continue the Crossfire Hurricane investigation as described by disgraced former FBI Director James Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017. Comey had described an investigation of "four Americans."

The substantially unredacted copy of the second Rosenstein "scope memo" largely confirms that. It states that Team Mueller is authorized to investigate the four Americans--Carter Page, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Michael Flynn. A fifth subject's name  remains redacted, along with the allegations against that fifth subject.

With regard to the first three subjects--Page, Manafort, and Papadopoulos--the primary and precipitating allegation is the same. Each is alleged to have:

Committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government's efforts to interfere with the 2016 election for President of the United States, in violation of United States law;

Please note that these allegations were definitively known to be a hoax perpetrated by the Clinton campaign no later than January, 2017. We have Devin Nunes' word for it, and there is no reason to doubt Nunes, since he's been consistently on the money. Further, shortly before Team Mueller was created, in early May, 2017, the FBI official in hands on control of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, Peter Strzok, stated in a text to FBI lawer Lisa Page that they both knew that a Special Counsel investigation was likely to be a dry hole, that there was likely "no there there."

And yet. On August 2, 2017, Rod Rosenstein authorized the continuation of a hoax investigation instigated by the Clinton campaign. Rosenstein, the DoJ official overseeing the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane investigation had had an easy half year to figure out what was going on, to figure out that it was all a hoax. Instead he gave Team Mueller the "full speed ahead" directive. To say that Rosenstein has a lot of explaining to do is a major understatement. I assume that Rosenstein has had some tense heart to heart discussions on this topic with AG Bill Barr, as well as assorted investigators and DoJ attorneys--with John Durham at the top of the list. No doubt they want to know whether Rosenstein really believed this nonsense and, if so, who sold him that bill of goods. And I'm sure there questioning of Rosenstein is informed with a very healthy dose of skepticism regarding any self serving explanations Rosenstein has to offer.

But that outrage pales in comparison with the authorization and scope of investigation that Rosenstein provided Team Mueller with regard to Michael Flynn. There are four descriptions of Flynn matters to be investigated, but I'll stick to the first two:

Allegations that Michael Flynn:
o Committed a crime or crimes by engaging in conversations with Russian government officials during the period of the Trump transition; 
o Committed a crime or crimes by making false statements to the FBI when interviewed about his contacts with the Russian government;

Now, we know why Rosenstein stated that Flynn had committed a crime by talking to Russian government officials during the Trump transition--if that allegation had not been made then the FBI would have had no authorization to interview Flynn about those contacts. In other words, Rosenstein was, in part, covering for Comey's illegal ambush interview of Flynn.

But now ask yourself: Exactly what crime did Flynn, the incoming National Security Adviser for President-Elect Trump, commit by talking to Russian government officials? Earlier today I quoted former FBI official Kevin Brock, who stated:

Flynn’s participation in the Kislyak conversation was not illogical, given his new role as incoming national security adviser. The call contained no reasonable criminal or national security violation on his part. 

Flynn's contacts with Russian officials were part of his duties as incoming National Security Adviser. Far from committing a crime by talking to the Russian Ambassador, Flynn was doing exactly what the incoming National Security Adviser is supposed to do.

So we ask again: What crime did Rod Rosenstein--a highly experienced career DoJ lawyer and prosector who had the entire DoJ available to offer legal advice if he needed it--have in mind? Presumably the Logan Act! Just last night I wrote, regarding the Logan Act:

But the fact is, the Logan Act narrative was a hoax predication. The Logan Act was a law that was enacted in 1798 but had never actually been used to prosecute anybody--not even George Logan, for whom the Act was named. There have been two indictments under the Logan Act--one in 1803 and one in 1852. Neither proceeded to prosecution. 
In the actual circumstances of the Flynn case, the FBI--if it was seriously considering that Flynn had somehow violated the Logan Act--was dealing with a law that, in over 200 years, had never been prosecuted. Moreover, it was a law that was widely considered by legal scholars to be unconstitutional. Matthew Walther perfectly captures the farcical tone of the FBI and DoJ supposedly considering a prosecution of Flynn under the Logan Act when he observes that considering indicting Flynn under the terms of the Logan Act, "is the prosecutorial equivalent of announcing a snipe hunt."

That Rod Rosenstein should commit himself in writing to such a farcical position is little short of mind boggling. In fact, if Rosenstein had ever hoped to pass the authorization of a Special Counsel off as a good faith mistake based on bad information or FBI lies, he blew that defensive argument by stating that Flynn had violated the Logan Act. No serious lawyer will believe Rosenstein if he tries to claim he authorized that further investigation of Michael Flynn in good faith. Certainly neither Bill Barr nor John Durham will take Rosenstein seriously.

Rosenstein's best hope, which I assume he has already acted upon, is to cooperate fully. Which is bad news for a lot of former--and maybe some current--FBI and DoJ officials.

ADDENDUM: Devin Nunes' reaction to John Solomon's Just the News:

“This information was redacted until now for one single reason - to hide the fact that false allegations from the Steele dossier were included in Mueller’s scoping memo," Nunes told Just the News. 
"In other words, a bunch of lies paid for by the Democrats were used to engineer the appointment of a Special Counsel to drag the Trump administration through the mud for years. The Russia collusion hoax was a disgrace, and we can’t let anything like it ever be repeated.”

UPDATE 1: Everyone is speculating about that redacted fifth subject of investigation. Check this out:

UPDATE 2: Pretty funny. Legal commentators are agog over Rosenstein's references to "collusion" and the Logan Act:

Techno FogThe Logan Act. Wow.

Undercover Huber: Absolutely insane: Rod Rosenstein wrote a scope memo not only tasking Mueller with investigating vague “Collusion”, but also @GenFlynn for violating the Logan Act(!)


  1. Perhaps the fifth person is Roger Stone. His name or a name with the same letters and spaces fits better in the format than Michael Flynn, Jr. It is curious that the fifth person is redacted. The redaction could be because of an ongoing unfinished situation.

    1. There are other possibilities--Rick Gates, Michael Cohen.

  2. I hate to say it, but, really, what’s the point?

    At most, some of Obama’s administration will get prison time and even that I am cynical on.

    Even with this, a significant amount of Democrats will vote Democrat and Republicans will vote Republican without what has happened.

    - TexasDude

    1. The late, great United States.

    2. Before we give up all hope, lets see how this plays out. I'm not convinced that a significant portion of my countrymen will turn a blind eye to this abuse, especially seeing how blue state governors and mayors are putting the screws to people of faith, hair salon owners and people who own a business entering their own business simply to remove product strictly for personal use. Couple that with arrests of dads and moms in front of children and Pelosi's "let them eat ice cream" schtick.

      Maybe Trump is playing 7th dimensional chess. That's a tongue in cheek comment. But maybe the LORD is using these events to reveal the corruption rampant in the United States.

      I sure hope so, as this nation is worse than I realized.

    3. Hope still in the embers. Morally it just seems that the country is too far gone. "Come out of her my people". Regardless, this election season looks to be one for the ages. Parscale tweeted they are about to deploy the death star theyve been building for 3 years.

    4. Texas Governor's executive "order" that he and his AG are now denouncing or something. They might have some 'splainin to do:

      AG on Exec. Order GA-18 - "...Your question concerns numerous public reports suggesting that the Governor’s order is vague and unenforceable. As explained below, the Governor’s order is neither vague nor unenforceable, and local governments are prohibited from allowing businesses to reopen unless they are recognized as essential or reopened services under the Governor’s order.

      "Executive Order GA-18 requires all Texans to 'minimize in-person contact with people' who do not live in the same household, 'except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services or reopened services[.]' Id. at 3. Essential services are defined as religious services and 'everything listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 3.0.' Id. And reopened services are those services listed in the Governor’s order that are not already essential services. See id. at 3–4 (listing reopened services, including retail to-go, restaurants, theaters, malls, museums, and libraries, with certain exceptions).

      "Some services are neither essential nor reopened services for purposes of GA-18. These include 'bars, gyms, public swimming pools, interactive amusement venues such as bowling alleys and video arcades, massage establishments, tattoo studios, piercing studios, or cosmetology salons.' Id. at 4. GA-18 prohibits people from 'visiting' these businesses. News reports have suggested that GA-18 does not prohibit these businesses from opening their doors to the public. We disagree."

      Last I checked, Texas isn't a blue state. Seems to be headed that way, though.

  3. Haven't seen confirmation yet, but consistent with Hannity's claim that his sources are saying the next 10 days to 2 weeks are going to be filled with declassification bombshells:

    >>Brooke Singman
    NEW: Also expected to be released, according to the source: transcripts for intvus with former Obama officials such as DNI James Clapper; AG Loretta Lynch; Amb. to UN Samantha Power; FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; NatSec adviser Susan Rice, deputy AG Sally Yates <<

    I suspect that list will produce an exotic betting bonanza of perjury & Obstruction of Congress.

    1. I recall that someone (Donald Trump?) said that when all this information started coming out, it would shock the nation.

      Again, coupled with the Dem overreaction to shutting everything down, including churches, I'm somewhat hopeful that there will be a huge drubbing of the Dems in Nov. Pritzker is saying that IL may not allow above ten members to attend church for one year. I think that there's no way Americans will stand for that.

      Give these Dems an inch and they'll take a mile. Their true colors are coming out.

  4. Suppose for the sake of argument that:

    * Paul Manafort indeed accepted money from the Ukrainian Government during Yanukovych's tenure (2010-2014)?

    * Manafort indeed received loans from an American bank president who was seeking a position in a future Trump Administration

    * Papadopoulos indeed was acting as an unregistered agent of Israel

    * Flynn indeed was acting as an unregistered agent of Turkey.

    How would any such relationship be significantly relevant to the suspicion that someone on Trump's campaign staff colluded with RUSSIA in 2015-2016?

    Rosenstein was just giving Mueller fishing licenses to fish for any stuff that Mueller might use to threaten prosecution and to offer deals to Manafort, Papadopoulos or Flynn in exchange for ratting on Trump about anything.

    Rosenstein and Mueller were using the same tactics that DOC/FBI use to remove a Mafia boss from his position. DOJ/FBI threatens prosecutions against any vulnerable associates of the Mafia boss and then offer deals to rat on the Mafia boss.

    Rosenstein and Mueller were using these same anti-Mafia tactics against the elected President of the United States of America.

  5. OT:

    >> <<

    Eric Holder in trouble?

  6. On each page of the scope memo, the header and footer are redacted.

    My guess is that the header and footer contain a still-secret code-name that DOJ/FBI -- and subsequently the Mueller team -- used for the investigation of Donald Trump.

    Maybe the scope memo's headers and footers are redacted because they include the code-name HURRICANE WIND.

    1. IIRC those are simply the Classification/Access headers. They get blacked out when a document is declassified if the Classification level and Access restriction, etc., can reveal information detrimental to National Security.

  7. I think that the fifth set of allegations addresses Donald Trump, Jr, and his meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya in Trump Tower.

    If so, then why is that section completely redacted still now in 2020? It's public knowledge that Mueller and his gang of Trump-hating lawyers investigated that meeting zealously and relentlessly.

    1. Some commenters at Conservative Treehouse are writing that the redacted name of the fifth set matches the length of the name Donald Trump.

      I'm coming around to the opinion that the fifth set of allegations indeed was against Donald Trump.

    2. If true that would be important because, as Undercover Huber points out (above) the only know allegations against Trump himself were "obstruction" allegations based on the firing of Comey. You wind up with double barreled idiocy or legal/investigative fraud.

      1. The allegation would amount to claiming that POTUS can't fire Director, FBI--absurd.

      2. But it would rely on the legitimacy of the Russia Hoax, because the point of obstructing Comey would be to obstruct Crossfire Hurricane--and the basis for that had been totally debunked 8 mos. earlier.

      Bottom line: if the fifth part is indeed aimed at Trump it's definitely not done in good faith.

  8. How does the Rosenstein SCO scope authorization letter and Rosenstein's presumed cooperation not collapse the entire prosecution of any and all miscreants?

    "We were just following leads where they took us. Investigation was authorized above my pay grade"

    Is it still a conspiracy when the Acting AG authorizes the actions taken?

    The usual technique is low-level cooperators supply incriminating evidence against ring-leaders. It doesn't seem to work if you get the Acting AG in the role of a patsy.

    1. My argument above is that RR is very far from being a patsty. He authorized actions knowing that they were outside the authority of FBI/DoJ. However, assuming that he WAS a patsy, the question is: a patsy for whom? Those people who made him a patsy would be the conspirators. RR had to discuss all this with others. Durham has no doubt talked to many of them already. Nobody said the case is easy, or it would be finished already.

    2. As a layman I would say that the defense of "I was just following orders" has virtually no standing in American jurisprudence and even less in this instance. None of these people were Junior G-men, none of their badges came out of a box of a Cracker-Jacks. They all, each and every one, were highly educated, trained and experienced senior members of the upper echelons of their respective organizations. Each of them knew exactly what the rules were and understood the clear red lines. Rosenstein can't say, "Well, Bob just asked me to pull the car around to the corner. How'd I know he was gonna rob a bank?" He supposedly spent a career spotting bank robbers. No one was making a 'mistake' or were gulled. They all signed on knowingly and with a will.
      Any private will tell you that no one can issue, or compel obedience of, an unlawful or immoral order, regardless of their rank, position or 'authorization' from on high.
      Tom S.