Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Sunday denied that the Russia investigation special counsel’s probe has turned into “fishing expedition” aimed at digging up dirt on President Trump.
“The special counsel is subject to the rules and regulations of the Department of Justice, and we don’t engage in fishing expeditions,” Mr. Rosenstein said on “Fox News Sunday.”
In his first Sunday show interview, Mr. Rosenstein added that special counsel Robert Mueller “understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation and so, it’s not a fishing expedition.”
Mr. Rosenstein’s comments come amid reports citing unnamed sources that the investigation has expanded into Mr. Trump’s finances unrelated to possible Russian interference in last year’s election.
Mr. Rosenstein played down the reports: “That’s not anything that I’ve said. That’s not anything Director Mueller has said. We don’t know who’s saying it or how credible those sources are.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vouched for Mr. Mueller, saying the special counsel is “a good man,” but warned that such investigators “at times historically have felt the need to produce something in return for their appointment.”
“And so you’re always concerned about that,” Mr. Christie, a Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “In the end, though, Bob Mueller is a good man, in my experience with dealing with him when he was director of the FBI and I was U.S. attorney. And I trust that he will be very careful to try not to go on a fishing expedition.”
Mr. Christie added: “There’s always a temptation to do that. I hope that that’s not what he does. I hope the focus remains on what may have motivated any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, if, in fact, any collusion happened at all.”
Mr. Rosenstein said that if Mr. Mueller were to find evidence beyond the “appropriate scope of the investigation,” then he would need to seek permission to expand the probe. “But we don’t talk about that publicly,” he added.
Mr. Mueller reportedly has impaneled a grand jury, fueling speculation that the probe has taken on a new dimension, but Mr. Christie said calling a grand jury is a “normal step taken by a careful prosecutor.”
“That’s a typical thing to be done in any investigation,” Mr. Christie said. “I did literally thousands of these as U.S. attorney in seven years in New Jersey. And so I thought that the coverage about how monumental this was is just a fundamental misunderstanding of the way this process works.”