By John UbaldiContributor, In Homeland Security
When Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein appointed a Special Counsel to look into the Russian government’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election, he stated, “I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter.”
Rosenstein’s official statement on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment and the purview of his investigation included the phrase “any other matters.”
What Does Rosenstein Mean by ‘Any Other Matters?’
At this time, it is unclear what Rosenstein means by “any other matters” and how pervasive the investigation will be.
Earlier this month, former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee and said no evidence has been found of any collusion between Trump and Russia. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Democratic Senator Mark Warner, ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, corroborated Comey’s statement.
At present, we have no idea the direction the Special Counsel’s probe will take. There are unconfirmed reports that Mueller is looking at obstruction of justice by Trump, which Comey referenced in his Senate testimony.
Comey told the Senate panel that when he met with Trump earlier this year in private, the president told him that he hoped Comey would drop his investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Comey said he interpreted the remark as a presidential order.
Does “any other matters” mean that Special Counsel Mueller’ investigation will focus only on this aspect with regard to the conversations between Comey and Trump and the actual reason for the former director’s firing? Will the Special Counsel investigate the rest of Comey’s testimony before the Senate?
Loretta Lynch Asked Comey to Call Hillary Clinton Email Scandal ‘Matters’
In his testimony, Comey also mentioned that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch asked him to refer to the FBI probe into Hillary Clinton email server as a “matter” rather than an investigation.
Will the Special Counsel’s investigation also look into Lynch’s meeting with former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac in Arizona? Did that meeting affect Comey’s decision not to recommend an indictment of Hillary Clinton? Was there any evidence of intentional contact between the Clinton campaign, the Department of Justice and James Comey while he served as FBI Director?
Reports say the meeting in Arizona was by happenstance. However, both Clinton and Lynch have security details to provide protection – the FBI for Lynch; the Secret Service for Clinton.
Both groups had to turn in flight plans and other classified logistical information. Was their tarmac meeting truly accidental or was it by design?
Special Counsel Looks into Russian Collusion
Will the Special Counsel’s investigation look only at the Trump administration and its associates and ties to Russia or will the investigation also look at anyone else who had ties to Russia?
Constitutional legal scholar Jonathan Turley cautioned, “Be very careful what you wish for.” Both political parties have had dealings with Russia, so when you turn over one rock, you never know what you will find.
Panama Papers Show Others’ Involvement with Russia
Last summer, WikiLeaks released the “Panama Papers,” a collection of 11.5 million leaked documents concerning international financial and attorney-client information.
The documents revealed that the Podesta Group, headed by Anthony Podesta (the brother of John Podesta) lobbied for Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank. John Podesta is the former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign.
According to a Reuters report, Anthony Podesta was one of many high-profile lobbyists registered to work for organizations supporting Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich. The Podesta Group also received $900,000 from the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a Brussels-based organization sympathetic to Yanukovich and his political party.
In addition, the Podesta Group represented Uranium One, a mining company owned by the Russian government. Uranium One received approval from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to mine for uranium in the U.S., ceding more than 20% control over U.S. uranium to the company.
The New York Times reported that the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013. Canadian records show that a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation.
Uranium One’s chairman, Frank Guistra, used his family’s own foundation to make four donations comprising of $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. The Clintons didn’t disclose those contributions, despite an agreement between Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration to publicly reveal all donors. Other individuals with connections to the Russian company also made donations.
Giustra’s name does not appear in any of Hillary Clinton’s “non-private” emails. Were the emails of such key donors automatically scrubbed to protect the Clinton Foundation?
In addition, a Russian investment bank paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for one speech. That bank has “links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.”
Will Special Counsel Investigate NSA Wiretapping?
As part of the investigation, will the Special Counsel also look into the unmasking of Americans caught up in the wiretapping by the National Security Agency? The NSA wiretaps include individuals from President Obama’s inner circle, including former National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
There are several questions concerning the Special Counsel’s investigation. At this point, no one knows what direction the investigation will take. What we know for sure is that the American people need prompt answers.