GOP law­mak­ers lash out against Rosen­stein

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS - By Devlin Bar­rett, Karoun Demir­jian and Matt Zapo­to­sky The Washington Post

WASHINGTON » Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein squared off Thursday with Repub­li­can law­mak­ers who ac­cused him of mis­con­duct and stonewalling— claims he an­grily de­nied — in an on­go­ing feud over the FBI’s in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Hil­lary Clinton and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

The tense ex­changes at a hear­ing of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee were in­ter­rupted by a House vote on a res­o­lu­tion meant to pub­licly re­buke Rosen­stein over what law­mak­ers con­sider is his fail­ure to turn over in­ves­tiga­tive doc­u­ments re­lated to both cases. The mea­sure, which passed 226-183, calls on the Jus­tice Depart­ment to “com­ply with re­quests in­clud­ing subpoe­nas” by July 6.

Thursday’s hear­ing fea­tur­ing Rosen­stein and FBI di­rec­tor Christo­pher Wray was billed as an ex­am­i­na­tion of an in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port that found se­ri­ous fail­ings in how fed­eral law en­force­ment han­dled a high-pro­file in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Clinton’s use of a pri­vate email server while she was sec­re­tary of state. But it mostly cen­tered on Rosen­stein — and Repub­li­can ac- cu­sa­tions he has with­held key de­tails about the po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Rosen­stein in­sisted to the com­mit­tee that the depart­ment has “hun­dreds of peo­ple work­ing around the clock try­ing to sat­isfy this re­quest,” and that the vote de­mand­ing the papers be pro­duced quicker would not af­fect that work.

Reps. Jim Jor­dan, R-Ohio, and Mark Mead­ows, R-N.C., au­thors of the House res­o­lu­tion, have sug­gested that if Rosen­stein does not com­ply with their de­mands by their stated dead­line, they will pur­sue con­tempt charges against him— even­though GOP lead­ers have not in­di­cated a will­ing­ness to take such puni­tive steps at a time when the Jus­tice Depart­ment is try­ing to pro­duce the records.

At the hear­ing, Jor­dan pep­pered Rosen­stein with ac­cu­sa­tions, ask­ing, “Why are you keep­ing in­for­ma­tion from Congress?”

Rosen­stein de­nied do­ing so.

“I don’t agree with you, con­gress­man,” he said. “That is not ac­cu­rate, sir.”

Jor­dan also ac­cused the deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral of redact­ing doc­u­ments to hide in­for­ma­tion em­bar­rass­ing to the FBI.

“Mr. Jor­dan, I amthe deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral of the United States. I’m not the per­son do­ing the redact­ing,” Rosen­stein an­swered.

As Jor­dan in­ter­rupted Rosen­stein to level more ac­cu­sa­tions, Rosen­stein snapped back: “Your use of this to at­tack me per­son­ally is deeply wrong. ... I’m not try­ing to hide any­thing.”

Jor­dan re­sponded: “It’s not per­sonal,” as the two con­tin­ued to ar­gue and Democrats on the panel at­tempted to in­ter­ject in Rosen­stein’s de­fense.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., de­liv­ered a lengthy mono­logue on anti-Trump text mes­sages ex­changed by some FBI of­fi­cials, then pleaded with Rosen­stein to con­clude the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion quickly.

“We’ve seen the bias, we need to see the ev­i­dence,” Gowdy said. “If you have ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing by any mem­ber of the Trump cam­paign, present it to the damn grand jury. If you have ev­i­dence that this pres­i­dent acted in­ap­pro­pri­ately, present it to the Amer­i­can peo­ple. There’s an old say­ing that jus­tice de­layed is jus­tice de­nied. I think right now all of us are be­ing de­nied. What­ever you got, fin­ish it the hell up, be­cause this coun­try is be­ing torn apart.”

Rosen­stein re­sponded that he shared Gowdy’s con­cerns but added: “With re­gard to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, I’ve heard sug­ges­tions that we should just close the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. I think the best thing we can do is fin­ish it ap­pro­pri­ately and reach a con­clu­sion.”

Rep. Ron DeSan­tis, R-Fla., pressed Rosen ste into ex­plain why he hadn’t rec used him­self from over see­ing Mueller, given that Rosen­stein au­thored amemo jus­ti­fy­ing the fir­ing of James Comey as FBI di­rec­tor last year — events that are now be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by Mueller.

“I can as­sure you that were it ap­pro­pri­ate for me to re­cuse, I’d be more than happy to do so and let some­body else han­dle this,” Rosen­stein said, grin­ning.

Repub­li­cans pressed Rosen­stein to ex­plain his role in dif­fer­ent parts of the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but the deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral said he could not talk about clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion. Be­cause At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions has re­cused him­self from in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­lated to the 2016 cam­paign, Rosen­stein serves as the act­ing at­tor­ney gen­eral of the Rus­sia probe.

ANDREW HARNIK — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein, right, with FBI Di­rec­tor Christo­pher Wray, left, at Thursday’s hear­ing.

Gowdy

Jor­dan

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