Rosenstein hasn’t been fired – yet. Here’s a look at some of his most controversial moments
Speculation surrounding Rosenstein’s fate followed a New York Times report which claimed that he had suggested recording Trump in the White House, in order to bolster any case for invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office for being unfit for the job. Rosenstein denied the story, but reportedly expected to be fired following its publication.
Other reports suggested that Rosenstein had decided to beat Trump to the chase and resign before he could be fired, but that turned out not to be the case. Instead, Rosenstein was summoned to the White House where he had an “extended conversation” about recent news reports, but was not fired.
Rosenstein has spent much of the last 18 months trying to walk a fine line between keeping the Trump administration happy and facilitating the Russia investigation without appearing to be biased. That balancing act made for some controversial moments which saw Rosenstein feel heat from both sides of the political divide.
Here are some of Rosenstein’s most notorious moments so far.
1. When he co-authored a letter saying Comey should be fired
One of Rosenstein's first major acts as deputy attorney general was also one of his most controversial. Just two weeks into the role, Rosenstein co-authored a letter with Attorney General Jeff Sessions arguing that former FBI director James Comey should be fired over his handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.
Rosenstein and Sessions said in the letter the FBI's "reputation and credibility" had suffered as a result. Trump fired Comey later that day, prompting fury from Democrats.
2. When he released Strzok/Page FBI texts in ‘stunt’
Rosenstein provoked the ire of Democrats again in December 2017 when, the night before he was due to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, the Department of Justice made public some anti-Trump texts exchanged between two FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The officials were removed from the investigation (and Strzok was later fired), but Trump used the texts to strengthen his case that there was a bias against him at the DOJ.
Democrats were angered at the timing of the release of the texts, arguing that it was an attempt to please or appease Trump and anti-Mueller Republicans during what would be a tense hearing on Capitol Hill.
The next day at the hearing, Rosenstein tried to keep Democrats happy by defending Mueller, saying it would have been “difficult to find anyone more qualified” for the role of special counsel.
3. When he was grilled over lack of evidence in Russia probe
Rosenstein has done his fair share to annoy Republicans, too. During a House Judiciary Committee hearing in June, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) lost his cool with Rosenstein, telling him the country was “being torn apart” by the Mueller investigation.
After roasting Rosenstein for five minutes about how the Mueller investigation still has not produced evidence that Trump acted inappropriately regarding Russia, the congressman implored him to reveal any information he had so that the country could move on.
"Whatever you got, finish it the hell up,” Gowdy said, in a moment that was celebrated by Republicans who have been skeptical of the Russia investigation.
4. When he trolled a lawmaker over ‘subpoenaing’ phone calls
During an exchange about the DOJ's failure to turn over documents related to the FBI's probes into Clinton's email server, Rosenstein prompted laughs when he smacked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) down with some clever trolling.
After being accused by Jordan of "hiding" information, Rosenstein wagged his finger at the congressman and said his department was "working around the clock" and only interested in truth.
When Jordan quoted a Fox News report alleging that Rosenstein had threatened to subpoena phone records from staff on the House Intelligence Committee, Rosenstein shot back tell him not to rely “on what the press said” and to inform him snarkily that there was "no way to subpoena phone calls."
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