US Deputy AG Rosenstein
to Brief House Members on Trump-Russia Probe
May 19, 2017
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein returns to Capitol Hill
Friday for a closed door briefing with members of the House of
Representatives about his appointment of former FBI Director Robert
Mueller to lead the independent investigation into possible collusion
between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russians.
Rosenstein’s appearance before the House comes one day after privately
briefing the entire Senate.
After Thursday’s meeting, senators of both political parties said the
public’s window into multiple ongoing congressional investigations into
Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election and any collusion
by the Trump campaign could be constrained now that a special counsel
has been appointed to lead the Justice Department’s probe into the
“Congress’ ability to conduct investigations of all things Russia has
been severely limited,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South
Carolina. “If I were Mr. Mueller, I would jealously guard the witness
pool. So, one of the biggest losers in this decision is the public.”
Rosenstein's appearance in the Senate was originally meant to allow him
to explain why Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey last week,
but the focus changed when Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special
counsel Wednesday night.
But Senator Richard Durbin said Rosenstein told the senators that he
knew Trump was going to fire FBI Director Comey even before Rosenstein
wrote the memo that Trump used as justification for the dismissal.
Senator Claire McCaskill told reporters Rosenstein was "very careful
about not going into any details surrounding the removal of Comey
because he wants to give Robert Mueller the opportunity to make an
independent decision" about how to move forward on the case.
And Senator John Cornyn, who had been considered a contender for FBI
director but removed himself from the running, said he believes senators
are taking the investigation "enormously seriously." He expressed doubt
any of his colleagues would try to "delay or impede or impair this
investigation in any way."
Perhaps the most anticipated witness is former FBI Director Comey, who
was fired by Trump and reportedly wrote memos alleging the president
pressured him to halt a probe of Michael Flynn, Trump's former national
security adviser. Committees in both houses of Congress have invited
Comey to testify publicly.
need for former director Comey to come testify in public soon is as
great as ever,” said Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat.
But Mueller could put off such an appearance, wanting to keep Comey’s
testimony out of the public eye until the special counsel’s work is
“I think that’s an open question,” said Democratic Senator Chris Coons,
when asked if Comey would appear before Congress, adding that it remains
to be seen “how ongoing congressional investigations will be coordinated
with the special counsel.”
“Mueller’s in charge, completely in charge of this investigation,” said
Durbin. “But beyond that, we’re going to have to work this thing out.
“I don’t know where this will go. But I trust Mueller,” Durbin added.