Posted May 19, 2017 02:00 pm CDT
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly deflected questions in an appearance before the U.S. House on Friday about who asked him to write the memo that was critical of now-former FBI Director James Comey.
Rosenstein said in prepared remarks that he stood by his memo, and revealed that that he had discussed with Jeff Sessions the need for new leadership at the FBI last winter, before the Republican senator from Alabama became attorney general, report Politico, U.S. News & World Report, Salon and the New York Times.
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., complained that Rosenstein did not directly indicate who asked him to write the memo. “That is Bob Mueller’s purview,” Rosenstein reportedly said, referring to the special counsel he appointed to investigate Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., said Rosenstein was asked repeatedly about who asked him to write the memo. Rosenstein wouldn’t say, adding that it was part of the Mueller probe, according to Nolan.
Rosenstein signed the order appointing Mueller before informing Sessions or the White House, according to the New York Times. Sessions didn’t act because he had recused himself from matters arising from the presidential campaign.
In prepared remarks distributed after his closed-door appearance, Rosenstein described his discussions with Sessions.
“In one of my first meetings with then-Senator Jeff Sessions last winter, we discussed the need for new leadership at the FBI,” Rosenstein said in the prepared statement. “Among the concerns that I recall were to restore the credibility of the FBI, respect the established authority of the Department of Justice, limit public statements and eliminate leaks.”
Rosenstein told the U.S. Senate on Thursday that he knew President Donald Trump intended to fire Comey before he wrote the memo.
On Friday, Rosenstein said he stood by his memo. It didn’t amount to a finding of official misconduct by Comey, Rosenstein said, or a statement of reasons justifying a for-cause dismissal.
Rosenstein also said on Friday that he was not aware of any request by the FBI for more resources to investigate Russian interference in the election. Rosenstein said he consulted his staff as well as Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and none of them recalled such a request.