Rosenstein Agrees to Testify Before House Committee

October 19, 2018 Updated: October 21, 2018

House lawmakers leading the Judiciary–Oversight task force scheduled an Oct. 24 interview with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to a press release from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)

Rosenstein, under oath, will answer questions from the committee, which expects to release a transcript of the proceeding once it is vetted by the Intelligence Community to protect classified information.

“The interview will be conducted in a secure setting so all relevant questions can be asked and answered without regard to classification,” Goodlatte’s office said in a statement.

The closed-door interview will be conducted by the chairmen and ranking members of the judiciary and government oversight committees: Reps. Goodlatte, Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.),  Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

Rosenstein oversees the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. Since October of last year, Goodlatte and Gowdy have been leading an investigation into decisions made by the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2016, including those made as part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Mueller took over the FBI probe in May last year.

Goodlatte said in September that he wants to question Rosenstein about a report in the New York Times that alleged the deputy attorney general suggested wearing a wire to record President Donald Trump. Rosenstein denied that account as “inaccurate and factually incorrect.”

“We need to get to the bottom of these very serious claims,” Goodlatte said in a statement on Sept. 28.

Lawmakers expected to interview Rosenstein on Oct. 11, but, according to three Republican committee members, the deputy attorney general didn’t show up for questioning. The “no-show” language was disputed by staffers for other Republicans on the committee, who told The Epoch Times that no interview was officially scheduled.

News of Rosenstein having canceled the meeting reached lawmakers on the morning of Oct. 10. With Hurricane Michael barreling toward the Florida Panhandle, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) traveled to Washington for the hearing, only to learn it had been canceled.

On Oct. 9, one day prior to the cancellation, The Washington Post published an article that backed the allegations that Rosenstein discussed recording the president. The Post article is based on a leak from the same joint committee that Rosenstein was scheduled to testify before.

According to the leak, the source of which isn’t named, former FBI general counsel James Baker told lawmakers in a closed-door interview that he learned of Rosenstein’s proposal to record the president second-hand and believed that Rosenstein was serious about the suggestion.

The joint committee limited the number of lawmakers who could attend the Baker interview. The Democrats notified only members of the judiciary committee, with members of the government oversight committee only learning of the interview after it took place. The Republicans limited attendance to three members of each committee. Gaetz learned of the interview only after it occurred.

Aside from questions about the alleged plan to record Trump, Goodlatte and Gowdy are expected to quiz Rosenstein on matters related to the investigation of the Trump campaign.

On Oct. 16, Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, refused to testify and invoked his constitutional protections against self-incrimination.

Fusion GPS commissioned and disseminated the infamous Steele dossier, which consists of unverified claims about Trump. The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for the dossier, which was then used by the FBI as a pretext to spy on former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.

The committee has also conducted a follow-up with Baker and heard from former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr, the wife of senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr, in closed-door interviews.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said that new information that the joint committee reviewed over the past week implicates Rosenstein in wrongdoing.

“Based on additional information we’ve learned over the last week, it is clear Rod Rosenstein should resign immediately,” Meadows wrote on Twitter, noting, without being specific, that Rosenstein “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.”

Before agreeing to an interview with the Judiciary–Oversight task force, Rosenstein granted an interview to The Wall Street Journal, drawing ire from several committee members.

“Rosenstein interviews with [the Journal] where he says Mueller investigation is ‘appropriate and independent.’ Translation—there’s time for media spin to justify Mueller probe but no time to answer questions from Congress about his statement on recording the President,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote on Twitter.

Despite speculation that Rosenstein might resign on the heels of the NY Times article, he kept his job after a 45-minute conversation with the president aboard Air Force One. The attorney general has given several high profile speeches since then, including one at an awards ceremony for inspectors general.

Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov
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