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Deputy AG Rosenstein To Be Grilled By Senate Today In Closed Door Session

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

After dropping a bombshell last night in the form of an announcement that Former FBI Director Mueller had been appointed as Special Counsel to look into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia (see details here), Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein goes before the entire Senate today to take questions in a closed-door session. 

Of course, the meeting was scheduled well before last night’s revelations and was originally intended to discuss the controversial letter (which can be read here) that Rosenstein wrote to President Trump in recommendation of Comey’s dismissal as FBI Director.  The White House originally cited Rosenstein’s letter as the primary reason for Comey’s dismissal though Trump later walked back those assertions amid unverified rumors that Rosenstein had threatened to resign over a mischaracterization of the events leading up to the firing.

Of course, in light of the volatile developments of the past couple of days, a number of topics are likely to be discussed, including the following:

Comey Firing:  Senators will undoubtedly want to better understand the circumstances leading up to Comey’s dismissal, whether Rosenstein was supportive of the decision and whether he faced any pressure from the White House to draft his controversial letter published on May 9th

Senator Lindsey Graham summarized his thoughts as follows going into today’s hearing:

“It’s pretty simple: Did you support the decision to fire [Comey] and tell us about the letter and how it came about.”

Comey Memos:  Rosenstein will also likely face questions over whether he was aware of the memo(s) that Comey reportedly wrote after Trump allegedly suggested that the FBI director back off a probe of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.  Senators will also likely be looking to better understand whether allegations that have been made in the media about Trump’s interactions with Comey rise to such a level that would merit an obstruction of justice charge and potential impeachment proceedings.

Mueller Appointment:  Then, of course, much of today’s discussion will center around last night’s surprise announcement that Rosenstein had decided to appoint Former FBI Director Mueller as Special Counsel to look into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Here is how Rosenstein characterized his decision in a press release issued by the Department of Justice last night:

“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter.  My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that nay prosecution is warranted.  I have made no such determination.  What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

“Considering the unique circumstances of this matter, however, I determined that a Special Counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome.  Our nation is grounded on the rule of law, and the public must be assured that government officials administer the law fairly.  Special Counsel Mueller will have all appropriate resources to conduct a thorough and complete investigation, and I am confident that he will follow the facts, apply the law and reach a just result.”

Rosenstein

As The Hill points out, today’s hearing will be a sharp contrast to Rosensteins confirmation process in which he received biparsitan praise and coasted to approval on a 94-6 vote. 

The political landmines awaiting Rosenstein are a dramatic shift from the bipartisan praise he received during his confirmation hearing. Democrats lauded him as a potential check on Sessions, whom they don’t trust with the Russia investigation and worry will steer the administration to the hard right.

Only six Democrats — four of whom are viewed as potential 2020 presidential candidates — voted against Rosenstein’s nomination. By comparison, only one — Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) — voted for Sessions. All Republicans backed Rosenstein in the 94-6 roll call.

While Attorney General Jeff Sessions has also been asked to tesitfy before the Senate, he recused himself from the Russia investigation previously to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

Of course, the real fun won’t begin until former FBI Director James Comey finally decides to give Jason Chaffetz’s his new phone number so they can schedule a hearing.


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