- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told The Wall Street Journal the Russia investigation had already revealed a multifaceted Russian effort to meddle in the 2016 US election.
- Rosenstein added that he had a “solemn” responsibility to oversee and prosecute such cases and that he was “pleased the president has been supportive of that.”
- President Donald Trump has repeatedly derided the Russia investigation, calling it a politically motivated “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”
- “I believe that our department and our office have been appropriately managing that investigation,” Rosenstein told The Journal.
- Rosenstein’s comments came after it was reported that he had been pressuring the special counsel Robert Mueller to wrap up the Russia investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday said the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation had already revealed an elaborate and widespread effort by the Russians to meddle in the 2016 US election.
Speaking with The Wall Street Journal, Rosenstein said, “I have a solemn responsibility to make sure that cases like that are pursued and prosecuted, and I’m pleased the president has been supportive of that.”
President Donald Trump, whose campaign is at the center of the Russia investigation, frequently derides the inquiry as a politically motivated “hoax” and a “witch hunt.” To date, he and his Republican allies in Congress have spearheaded several efforts – many of which have been successful – to force the Justice Department to disclose sensitive information about the investigation and its targets.
In addition to investigating whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the race in Trump’s favour, Mueller is also examining whether Trump sought to obstruct justice in connection to the inquiry.
Trump has made numerous public and private attempts to exert more influence over the investigation, at one point reportedly wondering why “my guys” at the “Trump Justice Department” weren’t protecting him from scrutiny.
Trump also often gripes about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation last year, after it emerged that he had not been forthcoming during his confirmation hearing about his contacts with Russians during the campaign.
Sessions is widely rumoured to be leaving after the November midterm elections, and Trump is expected to clean house at the Justice Department then as well.
Rosenstein’s own job was viewed as hanging in the balance after a New York Times report indicated the deputy attorney general suggested secretly recording Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office shortly after Trump fired James Comey as FBI director last year.
Rosenstein vehemently denied the claim, and subsequent media reports also cast some doubt on the veracity of The Times’ reporting. Still, Rosenstein reportedly offered to resign multiple times after the report came out to avoid being fired and leave on amicable terms.
Things between Trump and Rosenstein seemed to simmer down a bit after they met aboard Air Force One last week.
Though Rosenstein declined to discuss the allegations or his conversations with Trump, he told The Journal: “The president knows that I am prepared to do this job as long as he wants me to do this job. You serve at the pleasure of the president, and there’s never been any ambiguity about that in my mind.”
Rosenstein has long been a key target of Trump’s ire as the president complains that he is not doing enough to rein in Mueller. Trump was also infuriated when it emerged in April that Rosenstein approved an FBI raid of his former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen’s property.
“I believe that our department and our office have been appropriately managing that investigation,” Rosenstein told The Journal, referring to the Russia investigation.
His interview with the outlet came after Bloomberg reported earlier Wednesday that Rosenstein had been pressuring Mueller to wrap up the Russia investigation.
Two US officials told Bloomberg that Mueller was expected to deliver his key findings shortly after the midterms. But legal experts say that while Mueller appears close to tying up the obstruction thread, he is unlikely to be finished with the collusion thread by November.
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