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Sen. Whitehouse: Rosenstein's Memo May Be Part of Criminal Investigation

19 May 2017, 11:35 | Gladys Abbott

Sen. Whitehouse: Rosenstein's Memo May Be Part of Criminal Investigation

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after a closed briefing for members of the House of Representatives in Washington

Asked whether Rosenstein said if he received any pressure to come down hard on Comey, Rep. Sherman (D-CA) said, "He avoided at least 10 times any question that would answer your question".

"I thought the July 5 press conference was profoundly wrong and unfair both to the Department of Justice and Secretary Clinton", said Rosenstein, adding, "It violated deeply ingrained rules and traditions, and it guaranteed that some people would accuse the Federal Bureau of Investigation of interfering in the election". "I strongly disagreed with his analysis, but I believe that he made his decisions in good faith".

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told members of Congress that he knew President Trump planned to fire FBI Director James Comey before he wrote a memo the White House has pointed to to justify the termination.

But Rosenstein confirmed to lawmakers that he learned of Trump's decision to fire Comey one day before writing the memo outlining his perceived misconduct.

The Democrats left the classified, closed-door meeting in the Capitol basement saying Rosenstein refused to answer "simple yes-and-no questions", in the words of Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), fueling concerns that the President Trump appointee overseeing the Justice Department probes may be influenced by the White House.

Rosenstein briefed lawmakers on the events leading up to Comey's dismissal on May 9, as well as his decision on Wednesday to appoint a special counsel to lead the FBI's probe into Russia's election interference and whether Trump's campaign team was complicit.

Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of MA echoed that sentiment, saying there was "considerable frustration" and that "he refused to answer a lot of questions".

"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.

Some lawmakers apparently were frustrated that Rosenstein would not disclose more details about what led to Trump's firing of Comey. Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe has also testified he wasn't aware of any such request.

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In a statement on Friday seen by Reuters, Rosenstein writes: "I informed the senior attorney that the president was going to remove Director Comey, (and) that I was writing a memorandum to the attorney general summarizing my own concerns".

Rosenstein gave a similar, closed-door briefing Thursday to USA senators. "And until it's clear it's not going to be, he doesn't want to start muddying up the waters for the Mueller investigation".

"This is a fight for the soul of our democracy", he added.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise told reporters that if the special counsel gets to a point where the investigation is interfering, then they will have that conversation.

"Basically, it's nice he chose to come to up to the Hill but it would have been nicer if he had come up and wanted to tell us something", McGovern told reporters.

Rosenstein also told senators that he was "not aware" of a request Comey made for additional resources for the Russian Federation investigation shortly before his firing.

"He basically said that the investigation will make that determination".

More and more, it's looking like Trump's main worry is probably not even tied to allegations that he was somehow helped by Russian Federation during the election but rather whatever other nastiness the investigation may accidentally uncover.

"It was a powerful moment".



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