If the investigation arose from partisan opposition research, what specific crime is he looking into?
The Steele dossier is 35 pages of opposition research on Donald Trump, described by former FBI Director James Comey as “salacious and unverified.” It was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent who had a luminous dislike for Mr. Trump and was also an informant for the FBI.
.. the FBI’s only objection to the House memo at the time of its release was that it was incomplete, not that it disclosed sources and methods.
.. How does possible misconduct by senior FBI officials, which is certainly bad enough, intersect with the Mueller investigation? As follows: The Justice Department regulation that authorizes the appointment of special counsels requires a determination that a “criminal investigation” is warranted, and that there is a conflict or other good reason that prevents ordinary Justice Department staff from conducting it.
.. The letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing Mr. Mueller says he is to “conduct the investigation confirmed by then-Director James Comey before the House Intelligence Committee on March 20, 2017,” which covers “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” and any matters that may arise “directly” from that investigation.
.. “links” or “coordination”—or “collusion,” a word that does not appear in the letter of appointment but has been used as a synonym for coordination—does not define or constitute a crime.
.. By contrast, the Watergate, Iran-Contra and Whitewater investigations, whatever you think of how they were conducted, identified specific crimes. The public knew what was being investigated.
.. none of the charges Mr. Mueller has brought thus far involved “coordination” or “collusion” with the Russians.
.. the public should get access to a carefully redacted copy of the FISA application and renewals, so we can see whether officials behaved unlawfully by misleading a court; and Mr. Mueller’s mandate should be defined in a way that conforms with the legal standard of his office