WASHINGTON — Speaking at a gathering of progressives, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called on former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to testify on Capitol Hill about his involvement in Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump presidential campaign.
Rosenstein oversaw that investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself because of his own Russian contacts as a Trump campaign surrogate
“I think he should be brought before” the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, and we are taking steps along that regard,” said Schiff.
The remarks came in a conversation with MSNBC host Ari Melber, who interviewed Schiff as part of the annual Ideas Conference of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.
Melber pressed Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to explain what steps, exactly, he had taken to summon Rosenstein to Congress, where he would surely face tough questioning from House Democrats.
Schiff demurred. “I am not prepared to comment on where we are in terms of specific witnesses.”
“I feel like you kind of did, though,” Melber joked, eliciting laughter. He followed up with a question about whether Schiff had requested a “voluntary interview” with Rosenstein.
Rosenstein was instrumental in Donald Trump’s firing FBI Director James Comey, after Comey was unwilling to exonerate the president of colluding with Russia. It was also Rosenstein who appointed Mueller and oversaw his investigation, which culminated in a nearly 400-page report that resulted in no new charges from the Department of Justice.
A Harvard-trained lawyer, Schiff chose his response to Melber carefully. “It would be more than reasonable to infer that I think it’s fully appropriate for him to come and testify before Congress,” he said.
Schiff said he specifically wanted to know the circumstances under which Rosenstein wrote the Comey memo, and whether he was aware that Trump was planning to use that document as a pretext to fire the FBI director. Schiff also wondered if writing that memo should have led to Rosenstein recusing himself from the Russia investigation — or, at the very least, to an official ethics opinion about his involvement.
“Let’s have Rosenstein come before the Congress, and the American people, and articulate exactly what happened,” Schiff said. Rosenstein left the Department of Justice earlier this month and is now a private citizen.
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