But Republicans spent their time obsessively grilling Rosenstein about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump’s potential attempts to obstruct justice.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) accused Rosenstein, Mueller’s boss, of denying the American people “justice” by allowing the Russia investigation to continue.
“Russia isn’t being hurt by this investigation right now ― we are,” a visibly upset Gowdy said. “We are being divided.”
“If you have any evidence against the Trump campaign, present it to the damn grand jury,” Gowdy continued. “If you have evidence that this president acted inappropriately, present it to the American people. ... Whatever you’ve got, finish it the hell up, because this country is being torn apart.”
Rosenstein responded that suggestions to “just close the investigation” would not be best for the country.
“I think the best thing we can do is finish it appropriately and reach a conclusion,” said Rosenstein. “I certainly agree with you, Sir: People should not jump to conclusions without seeing the evidence. I’ve been the victim of fake news attacks myself, so I’m sympathetic.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) used his allotted time to show Trump and his constituents that he, too, could throw a tantrum about Mueller’s investigation. He accused Rosenstein of withholding information from Congress and failing to comply with congressional subpoenas.
“Sir, I certainly hope that your colleagues are not under that impression. That is not accurate,” Rosenstein responded before Jordan interrupted.
Rep. Eric Salwell (D-Calif.) called on Jordan to allow Rosenstein to respond, but Jordan carried on with his unsubstantiated accusations.
“Why did you hide the fact that [former FBI agent] Peter Strzok and Judge [Rudolph] Contreras were friends? Why did you redact that in the documents you gave us?” Jordan asked, referring to Strzok’s role in the Clinton email investigation.
“Mr. Jordan, I am the deputy attorney general of the United States, OK? I’m not the person doing the redacting,” Rosenstein responded. “I’m responsible for responding to your concerns ― as I have.”
“Whenever you have brought issues to my attention, I have taken appropriate steps to remedy them,” he continued. “Your use of this to attack me personally is deeply wrong.”
Applause erupted later, when Rosenstein shut down Jordan’s question about whether he had threatened to subpoena House intelligence committee staffers’ phone calls.
″There’s no way to subpoena phone calls,” Rosenstein replied.
Despite Trump’s repeated claim that the Justice Department is biased, and that Mueller’s team of investigators consists of “13 angry Democrats,” Rosenstein and Wray on Thursday both denied any connection to the Democratic Party.
″I’m not a Democrat, and I’m not angry,” Rosenstein said.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.