Fox News revealed this week that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein went on what aides describe as a “personal attack” against House Republicans in January when his department was under siege by the Intelligence Committee. The emails, reviewed by reporters, show Rosenstein and his staffers in a state of abject rage at having to justify the investigations into the Trump campaign and Russia…even though, of course, the House is fully authorized to exact oversight over the executive branch – including the Justice Department.
Rosenstein, however, has shown over and over again that he believes the DOJ to be somewhat exempt from the reach of Congress. As such, he became incensed at the start of this year when House Republicans were issuing increasingly-serious threats against him for his refusal to hand over duly-requested documents. In one email, which chronicled Rosenstein’s behavior in a January meeting with top FBI, DOJ, and House committee members, the deputy attorney general is seen going after Republicans with an uncommon viciousness.
“The DAG [Rosenstein] criticized the Committee for sending our requests in writing and was further critical of the Committee’s request to have DOJ/FBI do the same when responding,” wrote House counterterrorism attorney Kash Patel. “Going so far as to say that if the Committee likes being litigators, then ‘we too are litigators, and we will subpoena your records and your emails,’ referring to HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] and Congress overall.”
In another email, a House committee staffer wrote, “Let me just add that watching the Deputy Attorney General launch a sustained personal attack against a congressional staffer in retaliation for vigorous oversight was astonishing and disheartening. … Also, having the nation’s #1 (for these matters) law enforcement officer threaten to ‘subpoena your calls and emails’ was downright chilling.”
By any standard, this amounts to an abuse of power. And even if you forgive that – seeing as how the DOJ did not actually stoop to the level of issuing these subpoenas – then you must at least conclude that Rosenstein is a man with something to hide. When we’re in the middle of talking about a controversial investigation that has been defined by the President of the United States as a “witch hunt” – an investigation viewed skeptically by nearly half of all Americans – then Rosenstein should want to be as transparent as possible with congressional oversight representatives. THAT’S how you “CYA” in this situation, not going after the people who only wish to protect the integrity of the investigation.
The DOJ has a right to protect sources and methods, no one is disputing that. But Rosenstein, in the interests of standing between Congress and the Mueller investigation, has gone too far in cloaking this probe in a veil of secrecy. The American people have a right to know if there is any – or ever WAS any – justification for this investigation. And Rosenstein has no business threatening representatives who are only trying to answer that simple question.