By Alex Pappas, ,
Published May 17, 2018
The federal judge who recently ripped into Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has obtained a copy of the so-called “scope memo” that lays out the parameters of the Russia probe.
A court document filed Thursday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia shows that prosecutors have turned over the memo, under seal, to U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III.
During a court hearing earlier this month, Ellis demanded to see an unredacted copy of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s Aug. 2, 2017 “scope memo” to Mueller outlining the scope of the special counsel’s Russia probe that congressional Republicans also have sought.
“The scope letter is what Rosenstein said is the actual area that Mr. Mueller can investigate,” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said Thursday on Fox News. “He hasn't given it to Congress. I think we're co-equal branches of government. We'd like to see it without redactions.”
Ellis made news during the May 4 hearing for harshly rebuking Mueller’s team, suggesting they are seeking “unfettered power” and are more interested in bringing down the president than prosecuting former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
"You don't really care about Mr. Manafort,” Ellis told Mueller’s team. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever."
The special counsel argues that Rosenstein granted them broad authority in his May 2017 letter appointing Mueller to this investigation.
But after a revelation that Mueller’s team is using information from an earlier DOJ probe in its case against Manafort, Ellis said that information did not “arise” out of the special counsel probe – and therefore may not be within the scope of that investigation.
“We don’t want anyone with unfettered power,” he said.
Mueller’s team says its authorities are laid out in documents including the August 2017 scope memo – and that some powers are actually secret because they involve ongoing investigations and national security matters that cannot be publicly disclosed.
Ellis seemed amused and not persuaded during the hearing, referencing the common exclamation from NFL announcers and saying: "C'mon man!"
Mueller's team, investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, has charged Manafort on tax evasion and bank fraud charges related to activities before the election. Thursday is Mueller's one year anniversary of being appointed special counsel.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.