Special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of allegations President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russian interests is hurting America, an angry Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Thursday during a heated House Judiciary Committee hearing.
“Russia attacked this country. They should be the target,” he said. “But Russia isn’t being hurt by this investigation right now. We are. This country is being hurt by it. We are being divided. We’ve seen the bias … We need to see the evidence.”
Gowdy urged Rosenstein to put up or shut up.
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“If you have evidence of wrongdoing by any member of the Trump campaign, present it to the damned grand jury,” he said. “If you have evidence that this president acted inappropriately, present it to the American people … Whatever you got, finish it the hell up.”
Rosenstein (pictured above right) and FBI Director Christopher Wray (above left) faced tough questions about the conduct of bureau officials who investigated Democrat Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information during her tenure as secretary of state and also served on a counterintelligence probe that included President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Gowdy reiterated a comprehensive report by Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz finding inappropriate conduct by FBI supervisor Peter Strzok and his girlfriend, bureau lawyer Lisa Page.
“It should be the chance of a lifetime for an FBI agent to investigate that — except, apparently, the one that was actually picked to investigate it. That was Peter Strzok,” Gowdy said.
The congressman recited text messages between Strzok and Page indicating that they were much more interested in stopping Trump from becoming president than in uncovering wrongdoing by Russia. That continued even as Strzok moved over to Mueller’s team in 2017.
“At precisely the same time that Bob Mueller was appointed — precisely the same time — Peter Strzok was talking about his ‘unfinished business,’ and how he needed to ‘fix’ and ‘finish’ it so Donald Trump would not become president,” he said.
“He was talking about impeachment within three days of special counsel Mueller being appointed. Three days. That’s even quicker than MSNBC and the Democrats were talking about impeaching,” he said.
Gowdy noted that 60 of his Democratic colleagues have gone on record in support of impeaching Trump.
“And he [Mueller] hasn’t presented his first finding,” he said.
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Rosenstein testified that nobody is more offended by those text messages than he is. He said Mueller is moving as expeditiously as possible and added that it is best to let him finish the probe. He said he no one should jump to conclusions.
“I’ve been the victim of fake news attacks myself,” he said. “So I’m sympathetic. I agree with you, sir.”
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) pressed Rosenstein about his appointment of Mueller after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the matter.
“You talk about Mueller investigation. It’s really the Rosenstein investigation.”
“You talk about Mueller investigation. It’s really the Rosenstein investigation,” he said.
DeSantis asked Rosenstein why he has not recused himself, given his role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
“Congressman, I can assure you, if it were appropriate for me to recuse, I’d be more than happy to do so and let someone else handle it,” Rosenstein answered. “But it’s my responsibility to do it.”
Other Republicans clashed with Rosenstein over documents that the House has requested.
“Why are you keeping information from Congress?” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) asked, point-blank.
Said Rosenstein: “I am not keeping any information from Congress that is appropriate.”
Jordan referenced a vote Thursday in the House demanding the Justice Department comply with subpoenas and requests for documents.
“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. I have a team with me, sir, just a fraction of the team that’s doing this work.”
Democrats, meanwhile, complained that it was inappropriate even to hold Thursday’s hearing. They criticized the Republicans for suspending the ordinary rule requiring seven days’ notice.
“Today we meet so that the majority can criticize the deputy attorney general to his face, largely about his failure to produce document that you know he cannot produce,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the committee’s top Democrat.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) suggested the hearing was a sham. “We’re looking for monsters wherever we can find them,” she said.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) even contended that Republican oversight efforts could lead to deaths.
“It’s very obvious why that material should not be in the public arena,” she said. “There are people who, I think, who would certainly lose their lives if their identities were made known.”