Friday, May 19, 2017

Rosenstein in the House

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said he appointed a special counsel to restore Americans’ faith in the investigation into possible collusion between associates of President Trump and Russian officials, telling House members Friday that interference in U.S. elections should not be a partisan issue.

The moment brought applause from most lawmakers present at Rosenstein’s all-House briefing, according to several lawmakers present. But despite the positive feeling, several members leaving the briefing expressed frustration with the lack of new information Rosenstein provided about President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey.


Rosenstein told senators that he knew that Comey would be fired before he wrote a controversial memo that the White House initially used as its justification for the dismissal.


Democrats, in particular, left the latest meeting frustrated that Rosenstein was not more forthcoming. Several said they learned nothing new from speaking with him.

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) described the meeting as a “brief presentation followed by a Q and A. And not a whole lot of A.”

Did they think he'd tell them something he wouldn't tell the Senate's investigating committee yesterday?
“Former Department of Justice officials from both political parties have criticized Director Comey’s decisions,” Rosenstein said in an opening statement devoted largely to defending his memo.

“It was not just an isolated mistake; the series of public statements about the email investigation, in my opinion, departed from the proper role of the FBI Director and damaged public confidence in the Bureau and the Department.”


“To me, it was significant that he stated that he knew that the decision to fire Comey had been made the day before he drafted the memo,” said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).

Why Rosenstein felt compelled to write the memo remains unknown. Durbin said that Rosenstein told the senators that he was not pressured into writing it.

“He learned the president’s decision to fire him and then he wrote his memo with his rationale,” Durbin said.
I think it's pretty obvious. He wrote it because Trump asked him to so he could say he was firing Comey on the recommendation of the deputy AG. And then screwed him over by later saying publicly he'd already decided to fire Comey, no matter what.
[Comey] said one other thing that day that, in retrospect, stands out in my memory: he expressed wariness about the then-still-unconfirmed deputy attorney general nominee, Rod Rosenstein. This surprised me because I had always thought well of Rosenstein and had mentioned his impending confirmation as a good thing. But Comey did not seem enthusiastic. The DOJ does need Senate-confirmed leadership, he agreed, noting that Dana Boente had done a fine job as acting deputy but that having confirmed people to make important decisions was critical. And he agreed with me that Rosenstein had a good reputation as a solid career guy.

That said, his reservations were palpable. “Rod is a survivor,” he said. And you don’t get to survive that long across administrations without making compromises. “So I have concerns.”

  Ben Wittes
Rosenstein statement before Senate and House Intelligence Committees.

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