A dive into the latest court filings shows that there’s a lot we don’t know about the activities of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team. A memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein specifically authorizes Mueller to look into Paul Manafort’s activities in Ukraine. The special counsel released the memo as part of a pushback against efforts by Manafort’s legal team to dismiss the charges against Donald Trump’s campaign chair on the basis that the investigation had overstepped its bounds.
But the memo reveals much more than just Rosenstein’s additional instructions concerning Manafort.
This is an image of the first three pages of Rosenstein’s memo to Mueller. The opening paragraphs state that “The following allegations were within the scope of the Investigation at the time of your appointment and are within the scope of the Order.”
Of what follows, the area inside the red box on the image are the instructions that expand the investigation into Manafort to include his attempts to collude with the Russian government in the 2016 election, and his efforts to support pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. Everything else—all that area under redaction—represents other areas where Rosenstein expanded Mueller’s investigation. It clearly shows that the memo addressed far more than those two items, and other people than just Manafort. The memo ends with a note that if Mueller uncovers other crimes he wants to include, he should contact Rosenstein. Since this memo was dated August 2, 2017, Rosenstein may have since written additional memos, further clarifying and expanding Mueller’s role.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has asked questions about the work of a private consulting firm that has undertaken projects for the United Arab Emirates, according to people familiar with the investigation, suggesting his probe is looking more deeply at foreign influence in Washington.
That investigation may not seem to be directly aimed at either Trump or Russia, however the consulting firm has a business relationship with adviser to George Nader. Nader has served as an adviser to both Donald Trump and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. Nader was a frequent visitor to the White House, and had multiple meetings with Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon and has connections with several other Trump friends and advisers.
Mr. Mueller has heard testimony from Mr. Nader about a meeting in the Seychelles weeks before Mr. Trump’s inauguration between a Russian executive close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Erik Prince, a top GOP donor close to the Trump transition team. Mr. Nader also has close ties to Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, who has informally discussed with the White House issues related to U.A.E., a country where he has business interests.
Jared Kushner’s father met with the finance minister of Qatar shortly after Trump took office. That meeting apparently did not result in money for Kushner’s company. Just days later, Trump and Kushner traveled to Saudi Arabia were they appeared to support a limited coup where Prince bin Salaman replaced the crown prince, and publicly supported a combined Saudi and UAE blockade of Qatar.
Investigating Nader, Prince and Broidy, along with how their activities connect to the actions of Trump and Kushner in the Middle East may well be part of what’s hidden under all that black on the released version of the memo. Or not. But something is. What we’ve learned about the Mueller investigation this week is mostly that there is a great deal left to learn.