Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., will seek a financial audit of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation based on reports that millions of dollars are being spent outside the scope of the investigation.
Meadows, who sits on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in an interview for C-Span’s “Newsmakers” airing on Sunday that an audit is needed to ensure the Mueller team is properly spending the millions of dollars allocated so far to the Russia collusion probe, The Washington Examiner reported.
“There is some $3 million-plus that have been spent, or actually potentially not spent in a correct manner,” the congressman said. “I’m not making any conclusion to that, because I always want to back up what I have, but we believe we need to look at that a little bit closer.”
“We believe the American people need to know the scope of the investigation,” Meadows added.
The representative pointed out that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote a “scope memo” outlining the parameters of the investigation on August 2, 2017, months after appointing Mueller as special counsel. The document was also drafted just days after the July 26 early morning raid by FBI agents of the home of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Meadows also dismissed the notion that an audit performed by the watchdog Government Accountability Office would interfere with the conduct of the criminal investigation.
“The scope of that investigation is not part of the investigation,” the representative stated. “We believe since we’re funding it that we should be able to look at that scope.”
The Washington Post’s Mike Debonis contended the main reason Meadows wants to perform the financial audit is to gain access to an unredacted copy of the Rosenstein’s scope memo, which so far the Justice Department has been unwilling to turn over.
“The 2017 ‘scope memo’ has turned into a major flash point between the Justice Department and a cadre of House Republicans — including Meadows and other members of the Freedom Caucus — who say that Mueller has gone outside the bounds of his original charge to investigate possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign,” The Post reported.
Last week, a federal judge upbraided Mueller’s legal team during a hearing for Manafort, suggesting the attorneys lied about scope of the investigation, and the true purpose of the prosecution, which is to bring down President Donald Trump.
“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.”
Ellis demanded to see an unredacted scope memo.
Mueller’s team indicated its powers are laid out in multiple documents, including the scope memo, but some of their powers are secret because they involve ongoing investigations and national security matters, which cannot be made public.
Ellis did not find that answer satisfactory. “We don’t want anyone with unfettered power,” he stated.
The judge summed up the Mueller team’s position: “We said this was what (the) investigation was about, but we are not bound by it and we were lying.”
“Come on, man!” he exclaimed.
Ellis gave the government two weeks to hand over an unredacted scope memo or give him a credible explanation for not doing so.
When prosecutors said the redacted portions did not have to do with the Manafort case, Ellis replied, “I’ll be the judge of that.”
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