Trump wants Mueller to investigate ‘the other side.’ There’s just one problem.

Wasn't Trump just complaining that Mueller's investigation was too broad?

Robert Mueller testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2011.
Robert Mueller testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2011. CREDIT: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Donald Trump lashed out yet again on Thursday morning at Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into collusion between Vladimir Putin’s regime and the president’s 2016 campaign. In addition to Trump’s usual gripes about witch hunts, angry prosecutors, and “no collusion,” this time he criticized the investigators for not exceeding their legal mandate.

The complaint that the “won’t even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other side” seems to flatly contradict Trump’s main argument — which is that the investigation has overstepped its legal mandate. He has argued in the past that the investigation is somehow illegal (it’s not), so it’s odd that he would now want an illegal investigation into his political enemies. He has previously demanded via Twitter that his Department of Justice open an investigation into whether his campaign was illegally surveilled and baselessly accused Hillary Clinton’s campaign of colluding with Russia, but having such a probe done by a prosecutor he believes lacks legal standing would no doubt undermine such an effort.


Moreover, Rod Rosenstein, Trump’s own appointee for deputy attorney general, empowered Mueller in 2017 with a very limited role. The special counsel’s job was narrowly limited to examining “(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).” Later that year, Trump’s then-attorney John Dowd explicitly criticized Mueller for improperly exceeding his statutory role after a report surfaced that Trump’s business records might be part of the probe. “Those transactions are in my view well beyond the mandate of the special counsel, are unrelated to the election of 2016 or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and most importantly, are well beyond any statute of limitation imposed by the United States Code,” Dowd said at the time. Clearly any examination of “bad acts” by “the other side” would go well beyond Mueller’s authority.

And finally, Trump has repeatedly made the argument that collusion is not a crime (in fact, it is).

If it weren’t a crime, there would be little reason for Mueller to investigate the president’s opponents for something that wouldn’t be illegal anyway. Still, days after Trump installed acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker to oversee the Mueller probe, it is notable that he wants it expanded.


This latest Twitter salvo comes as the investigation is tightening around the president: Mueller revealed Wednesday that former Trump adviser Rick Gates is now cooperating with investigators.