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New acting attorney general once wrote Mueller's investigation was 'going too far

Acting Attorney General Mathew Whitaker once wrote in an op-ed that special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation was "going too far." (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

New acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker wrote in a CNN op-ed last year that special counsel Robert Mueller needed to have the scope of his Russia investigation limited to prevent him from "going too far."

The op-ed was published in August 2017, and addressed reports at the time that Mueller and his investigators would begin looking into Trump Organization finances that were not related to the 2016 election.

"It is time for [Rod] Rosenstein, who is acting attorney general for the purposes of this investigation, to order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing him special counsel," Whitaker wrote.

This is important because: Whitaker, who was previously chief of staff for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is now acting attorney general after Sessions' resignation, and is now overseeing the Russia investigation. If he believes Mueller has strayed outside his authority as special counsel, he could crack down on the investigation.

What Whitaker wrote about the investigation: Here are some key quotes from his op-ed, which was titled, "Mueller's investigation of Trump is going too far:"

"Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing."

"It does not take a lawyer or even a former federal prosecutor like myself to conclude that investigating Donald Trump's finances or his family's finances falls completely outside of the realm of his 2016 campaign and allegations that the campaign coordinated with the Russian investigation or anyone else."

"The Trump Organization's business dealings are plainly not within the scope of the investigation, nor should they be."

"If [Mueller] were to continue to investigate the financial relationships without a broadened scope in his appointment, then this would raise serious concerns that the special counsel's investigation was a mere witch hunt."

Whitaker takes over for Rosenstein: Whitaker said in the op-ed that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein needed to make Mueller either formally request greater investigative jurisdiction or to limit the scope of the investigation.

Now that Whitaker has replaced Rosenstein as the supervisor of the special counsel investigation, these opinions could have a tangible impact on how the Russia investigation proceeds.

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