Trump Attacks Investigators After Reports Of Obstruction Of Justice Probe
- Author: Larry Hoffman Jun 17, 2017,
Jun 17, 2017, 16:12
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is now overseeing the investigation into President Trump's campaign, but there's been speculation he could step down. Accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, he was to make his first trip to the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
It was unclear whether the president's comment confirming he was under investigation was based on direct knowledge or media reports that Mr Mueller is examining whether the president obstructed justice by firing Mr Comey.
Trump himself used Twitter Friday to lash out at Rosenstein, saying he was "being investigated" for firing former FBI Director James Comey "by the man who told me to fire the FBI director", seemingly referencing Rosenstein.
"I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!"
Trump advisers and confidants describe the president as increasingly angry over the Russian Federation investigation, yelling at television sets in the White House carrying coverage and insisting he is the target of a conspiracy to discredit - and potentially end - his presidency.
Separately, the apparent expansion of Mueller's investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice, including by firing Comey, has raised the question of whether Rosenstein, as a witness to and participant in the events in 2017 that culminated in that ouster, may have to also recuse himself.
California Rep. Adam Schiff says it's clear that Trump "believes that he has the power to fire anyone in government he chooses and for any reason". The White House denies any collusion.
But regardless of who made the decision to fire the FBI director, Rosenstein is now a person of interest in the investigation because of the memo. President Trump has vigorously objected to the propriety of such an investigation. When asked about it Friday, the vice president dismissed it as "routine". "Witch Hunt", Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to his May 9 dismissal of James Comey. "Witch hunt", the president tweeted.
But Rosenstein recently informed his colleagues, including Brand, that he might have to recuse himself from the investigation, according to a report by ABC News.
Rosenstein, in office for less than two months, is the top Justice official overseeing the probe because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself. Rosenstein is overseeing the investigation into Russian meddling, though it is being spearheaded by a special prosecutor, Robert Mueller.
But the people briefed on the President's thinking said Trump also knows that firing Rosenstein would be politically risky.
Officials familiar with the matter describe friction on the Justice Department's fourth and fifth floors, home to the suite of offices belonging to the deputy attorney general and the attorney general, respectively, in part because of Rosenstein's handling of the Russian Federation matter. Asked about the prospect and his potential need to recuse during his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Rosenstein said only, "I am working with career professionals who know these rules and are responsible for enforcing these rules, and I can assure you that we're going to do the right thing, and we're going to defend the integrity of that investigation".