Some Republicans are ratcheting up the rhetoric against Rod Rosenstein following recent reports.
The deputy U.S. attorney general, who assumed control of the Department of Justice probe into Russian collusion after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, is now at the center of controversy over allegations of intimidating behavior toward lawmakers and their aides.
Fox News broke the story earlier this week based on emails detailing a January meeting between Rosenstein and members of the House Intelligence Committee.
According to one attendee’s account, Rosenstein engaged in a “sustained personal attack against a congressional staffer” the source described as “downright chilling.”
Another staffer wrote in an email cited by Fox News that Rosenstein attempted to intimidate attendees, threatening at one point to subpoena their emails and other records.
Though some other reports include descriptions of a tense environment, both the FBI and Justice Department say the intimidation described in the Fox News article did not happen. One source within the DOJ said not only that the allegations are false, but that Rosenstein plans to formally dispute them.
Upon returning to the U.S. from a current trip abroad, Rosenstein “will request that the House General counsel conduct an internal investigation of these Congressional staffers’ conduct,” the DOJ official said.
Sessions similarly backed his deputy in a statement following Tuesday’s report.
“I’m confident that Deputy Rosenstein, 28 years in the Department of Justice, did not improperly threaten anyone on that occasion,” Sessions said. “But we do believe that we have tried to be cooperative with them and made progress … in fact have had some good relationships with top members of Congress.”
Some of those lawmakers, however, see things differently.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said he was “flabbergasted” by Session’s defense.
The congressman, who holds a seat on the House Oversight Committee, instead afforded credibility to the sources who claim Rosenstein acted inappropriately during the meeting earlier this year.
Jordan claimed the deputy attorney general “was threatening members of the House Intelligence Committee for doing their job, for trying to get answers for the American people, and the attorney general says that’s ‘OK, we’re doing just fine?'”
Along with Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Jordan revealed that he will be pushing fellow members of Congress to support a resolution pressuring Rosenstein to comply with their requests.
Meadows similarly questioned Sessions’ decision to support Rosenstein in light of the recent allegations.
.@RepMarkMeadows: "For the attorney general to say he's confident that Rod Rosenstein did everything right, well I'm confident he doesn't know what he's talking about." @IngrahamAngle https://t.co/E7d8mlWxsU pic.twitter.com/D1jeeKvfYw
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 13, 2018
They are hardly alone among members of the Republican Party. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said he had heard “firsthand” accounts of Rosenstein’s “threats” as well as “intimidation and stonewalling tactics” from within the Justice Department.
“Staff has literally been scared to the point of physically shaking in my congressional office out of concern for their family,” he said.
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