House sets Rosenstein interview next week
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has agreed to go to Capitol Hill next week to face questions about whether he proposed to tape conversations with the president or have him declared incompetent under the Constitution, House Republican leaders indicated Thursday night.
However, the arrangement appears to sideline some of the House GOP members who have been most vocal about demanding answers from the deputy attorney general, who is overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
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After a couple of weeks of confusion about whether and when Rosenstein would take lawmakers’ questions on Trump-related topics and others, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) announced Thursday evening that Rosenstein had agreed to a “transcribed interview” next Wednesday.
Goodlatte and Gowdy, who are both retiring from Congress at the end of this session, would be present along with their Democratic counterparts, Reps. Jerry Nadler of New York and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the statement from Goodlatte and Gowdy said.
“A court reporter will be present to record all questions asked and answers provided,” the statement said. “The interview will be under oath. The transcript will then be reviewed by the Intelligence Community to avoid the public dissemination of classified or otherwise protected information. Once cleared, the transcript will be publicly available.”
The arrangement makes no mention of a subpoena, meaning Rosenstein will not be legally compelled to answer any questions. In addition, it appears that the Republican lawmakers who have been agitating for Rosenstein’s appearance, including Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, will have to try to get their questions asked by the committee chairmen.
A Justice Department spokesman had no immediate comment on, or confirmation of, the House announcement.
Meadows complained on Wednesday that Rosenstein had granted a newspaper interview but couldn’t seem to find time to meet with lawmakers.
“Rod Rosenstein gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal today, after failing to show up in Congress last week to answer questions,” Meadows posted on Twitter, referring to a reported earlier plan for the Justice official to appear on Capitol Hill. “By hiding from Congress and making time for media interviews, Mr. Rosenstein has made his priorities clear. It seems transparency isn’t one of them.”
The North Carolina congressman escalated the dispute further on Thursday afternoon, tweeting that he’d obtained unspecified facts that mean the deputy attorney general should step down right away.
“Based on additional information we’ve learned over the last week, it is clear Rod Rosenstein should resign immediately,” Meadows wrote. “He has not cooperated with Congress, failed to be transparent about his actions, and shown a lack of candor in the way he’s characterized a number of events.”
Last month, Trump appeared to be on the verge of firing Rosenstein, shortly after The New York Times reported his alleged suggestions to “wear a wire” to record the president and to invoke the 25th Amendment. Rosenstein allies said the comments were sarcastic.
Trump indicated he was planning a climactic sit-down with Rosenstein, but it was scuttled for scheduling reasons.
Last week, Rosenstein traveled on Air Force One with Trump to a law enforcement gathering in Florida. Just before the trip, Trump told reporters he had no plans to fire the deputy attorney general. And during the speech in Orlando, Trump said he and Rosenstein had “a very good talk.” He did give details.
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