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Rod Rosenstein to Testify Before Senate Judiciary Regarding Russia Probe Origins

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Rod Rosenstein to Testify Before Senate Judiciary Regarding Russia Probe Origins

2020-05-27 22:35:03

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Rod Rosenstein (Image source: Public domain)



An old not-necessarily-friendly face will be heard from again next week. Former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the origins of the Russia investigation. It may open some old wounds, but clearly, Republicans are hoping it will highlight that the Obama administration made mistakes when it allowed the Trump campaign to be investigated starting in 2016.


Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced the hearing that is seen as integral to the investigation into what touched off the Russia probe. Trump and his allies have been wanting this for a long time.


Rosenstein accepted the invitation to appear before the panel next Wednesday, said a committee aide

After then-attorney general Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, it left it in his deputy's hands. Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey, and this concerned the acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe. He wanted to investigate whether the president was working with Russia. Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel.


A 2018 New York Times report said Rosenstein had privately suggested after Comey was fired that he secretly record the president and invoke the 25th amendment. 

Rosenstein remained in charge of the Russia investigation until Trump finally fired Sessions in November 2018 after many threats to do so. He named Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, which put him in charge. Later, William Barr, who had been attorney general under the late President George H.W. Bush, was sworn in to fulfill the duty again, and the investigation was put in his hands.


Rosenstein announced he would be leaving the Justice Department, as it was known Barr preferred to have his own deputy instead of just inheriting Rosenstein. On May 11, 2019, after the conclusion of the Russia investigation, Rosenstein stepped down. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee's investigation is expected to take a look at how the Justice Department handled the FBI's Russia investigation which was later handed over to Mueller.


"I am grateful to Chairman Graham for the opportunity to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about information that has come to light concerning the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process and the FBI's counterintelligence decision-making," said Rosenstein in a statement. 

Graham has said he'd also like to peek into the FISA courts' alleged abuses. These were highlighted in a report last year by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Much of this centers around the FBI seeking warrants to follow Carter Page, a former adviser for the Trump campaign, who had ties to Russia. Graham said Rosenstein will testify about Horowitz's report "and other matters."


It's also expected that the panel's investigation will look into former national security adviser Michael Flynn's case. He admitted to lying to the FBI and Mike Pence and took a plea deal, then took his guilty plea back this year. The Justice Department threw out the charges against him, but a federal judge put that on hold. Flynn, Trump, and others have accused the FBI and Obama officials of targeting Flynn unfairly. 

"Independent law enforcement investigations, judicial review, and congressional oversight are important checks on the discretion of agents and prosecutors," added Rosenstein in his statement. "We can only hope to maintain public confidence if we correct mistakes, hold wrongdoers accountable, and adopt policies to prevent problems from recurring."


The day after Rosenstein's testimony, the panel is expected to vote on a broad subpoena that will give Graham the authority to obtain documents and testimony from officials in both the Obama and Trump administrations. 

Current FBI Director Christopher Wray is on the list. While Trump has pushed for former President Barack Obama to be subpoenaed, Graham is against it, saying it would set a dangerous precedent.

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