Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee

Local news

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will appear next week at a hearing by the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, the committee announced Wednesday.

“Mr. Rosenstein will testify about the new revelations contained in the Horowitz report concerning the FISA warrant applications and other matters,” Chairman Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said in a statement. “This will be the first in a series of oversight hearings regarding all things Crossfire Hurricane and the Mueller investigation.”

The former deputy attorney general, who resigned last year, was instrumental in the government’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. The FBI’s investigation, codenamed “Crossfire Hurricane,” was eventually taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller, whom Rosenstein appointed in 2017.

The hearing is set for next Wednesday and Rosenstein will be the only witness, according to the committee.

Rosenstein, along with other top Justice Department officials, had also signed a series of warrants the FBI sought from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as it sought to investigate Carter Page, a onetime foreign policy adviser to the 2016 Trump campaign. The surveillance applications stated that the FBI believed Page “has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government,” according to redacted copies the bureau released in 2018.

Page was never charged with any crimes during the three-year Russia investigation.

The warrants were at the heart of an internal review concluded last year by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, that found the FBI had properly opened its investigation into Russian election interference and potential collusion by the Trump campaign, but that there were major errors in how the agency had conducted the probe.

Rosenstein thanked Graham on Wednesday for the opportunity to testify before the committee.

“During my three decades of service in law enforcement, I learned firsthand that most local, state, and federal law enforcement officers deserve the high confidence people place in them, but also that even the best law enforcement officers make mistakes, and that some engage in willful misconduct,” he said in a statement. “Independent law enforcement investigations, judicial review, and congressional oversight are important checks on the discretion of agents and prosecutors.”

A separate but related criminal investigation is underway, after Attorney General William Barr tapped a top federal prosecutor to review the origins of the Russia probe and the FBI surveillance.

Rosenstein, who had been criticized for his handling of the probe, defended his actions last year, saying he stood by his decision to appoint Mueller, despite the fact that “not everybody was happy with my decision, in case you didn’t notice” — a possible reference to Trump’s misgivings about the need for and motivations of the special counsel’s team.

This month, Trump retweeted a series of conspiratorial posts about a memo Rosenstein had written in August 2017, which specifically authorized Mueller to investigate a slew of potential crimes by several Trump associates. Trump and his allies point to this memo as proof of wrongdoing, though their allegations are intertwined with debunked theories and several federal courts have upheld the legality of the Mueller probe.

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