A day after reports that more conservative Republicans in the House might push to consider articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for his oversight of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Rosenstein defended the work of the Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert Mueller – and tweaked GOP critics of the probe.
“They can’t even resist leaking their own drafts,” Rosenstein said to laughter at a Law Day event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., referring to members of the House Freedom Caucus, who have attacked Rosenstein for not turning over documents and more, threatening the possibility of his impeachment.
Rosenstein made clear that political pressure from Capitol Hill is not going to have an impact upon him.
“I can tell you that there are people who have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time. And I think they should understand by now the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted,” Rosenstein said.
While reporters at the event were urged not to ask about the ongoing Russia investigation – most of them did anyway – and Rosenstein sidestepped those queries, saying it would be wrong to publicly speak about the Russia probe.
“I’m not going to talk about the Mueller investigation,” Rosenstein said. “In general, our goal is to conclude every investigation as quick as we can.”
At one point, the Deputy Attorney General was asked if a President could be indicted – Rosenstein said current policy at the Justice Department does not allow for that.
“The Department of Justice has in the past – when the issue arose – that a sitting President cannot be indicted.”
Despite the best efforts of reporters, lawyers and the general public, Rosenstein shed little light on the Mueller probe, and where it stands.
“The short answer is, I don’t comment on investigations; I don’t comment on what we’re investigating, I don’t comment on what we’re not investigating,” he said.
Just down Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House, there was little comment as well after the President denounced leaks about questions that he could be asked with regards to Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
“Once again, I’m not going to get into the back and forth involving the Special Counsel,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as she referred reporters to the President’s personal attorneys.
In doing that, Sanders specifically mentioned former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani, who joined the Trump legal team in late April.