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On Fox News, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein says Mueller can investigate any Trump-related crime, with permission

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein may have had some slightly reassuring words for reporters (but not leakers) on Fox News Sunday, but he was pretty guarded when host Chris Wallace asked about reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had impaneled a grand jury in the Russian election-meddling investigation and might be looking into President Trump's finances. Generally speaking, a grand jury is "an appropriate way to gather documents, sometimes to bring witnesses in, to make sure that you get their full testimony," he said. "It's just a tool that we use like any other tool in the course of our investigations."

Wallace noted that when Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel, he authorized him to investigate not just possible coordination between Russia and Trump's campaign but also "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation," pursuant to the law. Rosenstein said that "Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation and so, it's not a fishing expedition," but they won't discuss the scope publicly.

Wallace asked again, "If he finds evidence of a crime, can he look at that?" If Mueller "finds evidence of a crime that's within the scope of what Director Mueller and I have agreed is the appropriate scope of the investigation, then he can," Rosenstein said. "If it's something that's outside that scope, he needs to come to the acting attorney general — at this time, me — for a permission to expand his investigation."

Wallace pressed on, noting that Bill Clinton's impeachment began as an investigation of a failed real estate deal.

Wallace also noted that Trump publicly urged prosecutors to look into Hillary Clinton's emails, asking Rosentstein, "do you view that as an order?" Rosenstein said no, "I view what the president says publicly as something he said publicly. If the president wants to give orders to us on the department, he does that privately. And then if we have any feedback, we provide it to him." And so far, he added, "the president has not directed us to investigate particular people, that wouldn't be right. That's not the way we operate."