While the White House considers its options ahead of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign continues to grow. Earlier on Friday, a report suggested ousted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s ties to Turkey were a part of Mueller’s investigation, which also added a grand jury. Now a subsequent story by the Associated Press reveals the Justice Department’s separate look into Paul Manafort’s problems is now under Mueller’s control.
The former Trump campaign manager who, per the Senate’s request, turned over documentation relating to Russia (along with former Trump advisor Roger Stone Jr.), has been the subject of what the AP characterizes as a “criminal probe” for some time. This isn’t surprising, considering recent stories detailing problematic loans and payouts he received — both from the presidential campaign, and from former clients who just so happened to be foreign (and deeply connected to Russia). As a result, notes the AP, Mueller’s “move to consolidate the matters… indicates [eh] is assuming a broad mandate in his new role running the sensational investigation.”
Whether or not Mueller believes there are any direct connections between Manafort’s case and the primary Trump-Russia probe remains to be seen. However, the AP also reveals the special counsel may expand his efforts further to include Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, for their role in Comey’s firing and whether or not it resulted from Trump’s expressed desire to cease the FBI’s Russia investigation. Rosenstein, who spoke with the AP, admitted as much on Friday. Sessions, meanwhile, has come under fire by the Senate for possibly committed perjury regarding questions about his own Russian connections.
(Via Associated Press)