WASHINGTON (Alliance News) – Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Friday briefed Congress on two matters that have the White House in turmoil: his decision to appoint a special prosecutor to lead a Russian election-meddling probe; and President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI chief James Comey.
Rosenstein, the second-ranking official in the Justice Department, late Wednesday named ex-FBI director Robert Mueller – who oversaw the bureau from 2001-13 – as special counsel to take over the investigation into alleged Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The probe includes Russian contacts by Trump’s 2016 campaign team, including by Michael Flynn, who was fired in February after just 25 days as White House national security advisor, when he admitted misleading the White House about pre-inauguration contacts with the Russian ambassador.
Rosenstein gave a similar, closed-door briefing Thursday to US senators.
The federal investigation had been led by Comey until he was sacked on May 9.
Trump had initially justified Comey’s firing by citing a memo by Rosenstein accusing Comey of mishandling the 2015-16 investigation of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of private email for government documents. Days later, Trump said he had been planning for months to sack Comey, Mueller’s successor.
Rosenstein make the special counsel decision because Attorney General Jeff Sessions removed himself from decisions about investigations of the 2016 presidential campaigns. Sessions had failed to inform Congress during his confirmation hearings of meetings he had with the Russian ambassador during the campaign.