Senate Panel Approves Trump Nominee Jeffrey Rosen as Deputy AG

May 9, 2019 Updated: May 9, 2019

The Senate Judiciary Committee on May 9 approved President Donald Trump’s deputy attorney general nominee, Jeffrey Rosen, forwarding the matter to the Senate floor for confirmation.

Rosen currently serves as deputy secretary at the Department of Transportation. Trump picked him at the recommendation of Attorney General William Barr, who has worked with Rosen in private law practice.

Democrats, who are the minority party on the committee, opposed Rosen, saying he’s never worked as a prosecutor.

“We can’t and shouldn’t afford to have somebody who is learning on the job,” said the panel’s ranking member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), argued that Rosen’s decades of litigation experience is sufficient, noting that since 1975, there have been five deputy attorney generals with no prosecutorial or Justice Department experience.

“This is not a prosecutor’s job,” he said. “The job of the deputy attorney general, among others, is to manage the organization, which is $28 billion and more than 100,000 employees.”

Rosen is “exceedingly well qualified” for this job, Graham said.

Replacing Rosenstein

If confirmed by the Republican majority in the Senate, Rosen will replace outgoing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who became one of the department’s most high-profile deputies in recent history, after he appointed special counsel Robert Mueller in May 2017 to probe Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

While Mueller’s report didn’t determine whether Trump obstructed justice, it documented multiple episodes painting Trump’s behavior in an unflattering light. Rosenstein and Barr later concluded Mueller found insufficient evidence to prosecute Trump for obstruction.

Rosenstein, who was to be honored in a May 9 farewell ceremony, will be leaving his post at the end of the week.

Rosen suggested during his April 10 confirmation hearing that, if necessary, he is willing to rebuff political pressure from the White House. He told the legislators that he would expect that all criminal investigations “proceed on the facts and the law” and that he believes prosecutions should be “free of improper political influences.”

“If the appropriate answer is to say no to somebody, then I will say no,” he said.

Legal Career

Rosen was a litigator at Kirkland & Ellis LLP., one of the largest legal firms in the world, for more than 20 years before becoming a senior adviser to the transportation secretary in the Bush administration in 2003. Later that year, President George W. Bush picked him for the job of general counsel at the department. In 2006, he moved on to the Office of Management and Budget, also as general counsel (pdf).

Shortly after the beginning of the Obama administration, he moved back to Kirkland & Ellis, where he also briefly worked in 2009 and then again since 2017.

He represented a number of large companies, including AOL Inc., PG&E National Energy Group, Qwest Communications Corp., CF Industries Inc., Marriott Corp., and Raytheon Corp.

In 2008, Bush nominated Rosen for the U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia. He got a “well-qualified” rating from the American Bar Association, but his nomination lapsed before he received a committee hearing or a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

In March 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Rosen to be a governor of the U.S. Postal Service. He received unanimous approval by voice-vote from the Senate Homeland Security Committee, but his nomination lapsed.

Among his partisan activities, Rosen served in 2012 as chief legal counsel to the platform committee of the Republican National Convention. In both 2012 and 2016, he assisted with the Republican presidential candidates’ transition planning teams.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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