Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stands by the memo he wrote which listed former FBI Director Comey’s alleged offenses. The White House cited the memo as a reason for canning Comey.
Rosenstein briefed both the Senate and House in the last two days.
According to records obtained by Fox News, Rosenstein said, “among the concerns that I recall were to restore the credibility of the FBI, respect the established authority of the Department of Justice, limit public statements and eliminate leaks.”
Rosenstein’s full statement provides a robust defense of his own actions, and a more complex and nuanced timeline leading up to Comey’s ouster.
He reiterated his judgments from the May 9 memo, saying Comey mishandled the Clinton email investigation. Rosenstein said Comey “usurped” the authority of the Justice Department, first with his July 2016 press conference outlining Clinton’s alleged offenses and recommending no charges, and second with his October call to notify Congress the probe was being reopened.
Rosenstein said he also discussed “the need for new leadership at the FBI” with Jeff Sessions – then a senator, now the attorney general – last winter.
“Among the concerns that I recall were to restore the credibility of the FBI, respect the established authority of the Department of Justice, limit public statements and eliminate leaks,” he said.
He said he learned on May 8 that Trump intended to remove Comey and “sought my advice and input.”
He said in the statement, “Notwithstanding my personal affection for Director Comey, I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader.” Rosenstein said he then wrote the memo summarizing his “longstanding concerns” with Comey.
“I chose the issues to include in my memorandum,” he said, adding it was reviewed by a senior career attorney.
Rosenstein has been accused of “was somehow put up to writing the memo to justify Trump’s decision”. But as Fox News reports, “the timeline he provided makes clear that Rosenstein did not initiate the process in the final phase – as senators said after Thursday’s briefing.”
Democrats convinced of a nefarious Trump/Russia collusion have accused President Trump of firing Comey in order to curb the Russia investigation. To date, zero proof of such collusion has been publicly presented.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the investigation will include questions regarding possible “misconduct” or “interference.” He said Rosenstein made clear that Mueller would have the freedom take the probe wherever he needs.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Joe Crowley admitted Friday that investigations had produced no proof of any Trump/Russia collusion.
The Free Beacon summarized:
“Are you absolutely convinced that there was some kind of collusion?” Scott asked Crowley. “Because at this point, there has been no evidence that I am aware of.”
Crowley initially dodged the question, focusing on the fact that the investigation he wanted still had not really begun.
“Evidence in terms of what will be gathered through this process is different than the conjecture that has been laid out through the media,” Crowley said.
“I do think that there are some things that are highly unusual that are going on here,” he continued, saying that President Donald Trump has not suitably addressed Russia’s meddling in the election.
Crowley said he wanted the investigation to uncover whether Russia affected the election, but, “Whether or not there was collusion, that remains to be seen.”
“That’s why we have the special prosecutor or special counsel to delve deep and really find those answers,” he said. “That’s what the American people want and what I want as well.”
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