WASHINGTON – Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was roasted Wednesday by the powerful Senate Justice Department over the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation – including his decision to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate President Trump.
Rosenstein, 55, is questioning his decision to sign a foreign surveillance warrant that includes Carter Page, a former adviser to the Trump 2016 campaign, and the Justice Department’s chief watchdog last December, which found the Mueller investigation full of errors.
Former Deputy AG backed his decision to knock Mueller to lead the investigation into Trump, saying he was acting on the book when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew himself and FBI Director James Comey was sacked by the president.
“As a result of the events that followed the departure of the FBI director, I was concerned that the investigation would not be public confidence and that the FBI director was not the right person to lead it,” Rosenstein said.
“I decided that hiring a special counsel would be the best way to properly complete the investigation and improve the public’s confidence in its decisions,” he continued.
“As we now know, the end result was that the Russians committed crimes that tried to influence the election. The Americans did not conspire with them,” he said.
But as Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz found, there were no legitimate grounds for believing that Page was working with Russia, and would not have signed a FISA warrant to spy on Carter’s side, Rosenstein said.
Democrats have accused Senate Republicans of using the FBI Russia investigation into the so-called Crossfire Hurricane as a political fodder to boost President Trump ahead of the November general election.
Senate Judiciary President Lindsay Graham (R-SC) shot the charges on Wednesday, saying that Horowitz’s report was a “major abuse of power” by the country’s intelligence agencies.
“If you don’t like Trump, fine. This is not about liking Trump or liking Trump, it’s about us as a nation, ”Graham said.
“We’re talking about the Republican presidential nominee. His campaign is under continuous investigation,” he continued.
“We’re going to talk about how we got off the rails, who’s responsible for getting off the trail and making sure they are punished appropriately,” he said.