Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy tore into Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday over the long-running Russia collusion probe — telling the Justice Department at a public hearing to “finish it the hell up because this country is being torn apart.”
Gowdy’s excoriation came amid a string of tense moments at the House Judiciary Committee hearing, where a months-long battle between Republicans and the DOJ over its handling of the Russia probe and Hillary Clinton email investigation flared before the cameras.
Underscoring those tensions, as Rosenstein testified alongside FBI Director Christopher Wray, the House approved a resolution insisting the DOJ comply with congressional subpoenas for documents related to the Russia case.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, cited that looming vote as he personally challenged Rosenstein at the hearing over his compliance.
“Why are you keeping information from Congress?” Jordan asked.
“It is not accurate, sir,” Rosenstein said.
“We have caught you hiding information,” Jordan countered.
Rosenstein insisted his team was responding to their requests.
Earlier in the hearing, Gowdy, R-S.C., spoke to frustration over the protracted Russia investigation that Rosenstein oversees, suggesting that despite a host of charges against Trump-tied figures, the investigation has not found evidence of presidential wrongdoing.
“We’ve seen the bias, we need to see the evidence,” Gowdy said. “If you have evidence of wrongdoing by any member of the Trump campaign, present it to the damn grand jury. If you have evidence that this president acted inappropriately, present it to the American people.”
“Whatever you got, finish it the hell up, because this country is being torn apart,” he said.
“The best thing we can do is finish it appropriately, and reach a conclusion,” Rosenstein assured, adding that nobody should “draw any conclusions” beyond the charges filed.
Rosenstein, meanwhile, was grilled repeatedly Thursday by House Republicans over everything from his department’s role in Trump campaign surveillance to alleged stonewalling of congressional document requests to the damning watchdog report on FBI conduct during the Clinton email probe.
The top DOJ official, who oversees the special counsel’s Russia probe, sought to defuse tensions – vowing to hold wrongdoers accountable in the wake of the inspector general report and defending the response to congressional requests for documents related to the Russia investigation.
“As with most things in Washington, the real work is not done on television and it is not all done by me,” Rosenstein said. “Trump administration officials are meeting and talking to your staffs every day to accommodate requests and produce relevant information to this committee, other committees and several Senate committees.”
Rosenstein said “we’re not withholding anything,” in response to questions from committee member Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., over newly revealed texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. A bombshell text in the IG report showed Strzok vowing to “stop” the election of President Trump.
Rosenstein also denied allegations from Jordan that he had Strzok avoid answering certain questions during a closed-door appearance before the committee a day earlier.
Further, he said he could not discuss classified information in an open setting when asked what the DOJ and FBI did to surveil the Trump campaign, including the reported work of an informant apparently in contact with members of that campaign in 2016.
Rosenstein further rebuffed GOP suggestions that he recuse himself from the Russia probe, repeatedly denied allegations first reported by Fox News that he once threatened to subpoena GOP committee members and declined to comment about his role in approving a surveillance application for a Trump adviser.
Rosenstein would not say whether he read the application, but stressed he’s “confident” about his conduct and sees it as “highly, highly unlikely” that the inspector general would find wrongdoing on his part as part of an ongoing review.
“Everyone knew about some of those departures as they occurred. We learned about others through the internal investigation, such as leaking to the news media, and political bias,” Rosenstein said. “We need to correct errors, hold wrongdoers accountable and deter future violations.”
Rosenstein said that the Justice Department has already implemented “mandatory annual training” to address the concerns.
Of course, Rosenstein long ago stated that President Trump was not , a target of any part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation or the probe into his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Now, if you thought that Mueller has gone too far, been investigating too long, and dug into things outside the scope of his investigation, and it sure seems to be illegal, you would be right.
Mr. Mueller’s investigation has crossed a constitutional line, for reasons the U.S. Supreme Court made clear in the 1988 case Morrison v. Olson. That case is best known for Justice Antonin Scalia’s powerful lone dissent arguing that the post-Watergate independent counsel statute was unconstitutional. But Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s opinion for the court, while upholding the statute, set forth limits that the Mueller investigation has exceeded, according to the Wall Street Journal.
At issue is the Constitution’s Appointments Clause, which provides that “principal officers” must be appointed by the president with the Senate’s consent. Rehnquist wrote that independent counsel Alexia Morrison qualified as an “inferior officer,” not subject to the appointment process, because her office was “limited in jurisdiction” to “certain federal officials suspected of certain serious federal crimes.”
Mr. Mueller, in contrast, is investigating a large number of people and has already charged defendants with many different kinds of crimes, including—as in Mr. Manafort’s case—ones unrelated to any collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
June 28th, 2018