As the heat rises from the Special Counsel’s wide-ranging investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, if President Trump is looking for an excuse to fire Robert Mueller, he is not getting it from his Justice Department.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, and oversees his investigation, said in an interview today with USA Today, “the Special Counsel is conducting himself consistently with our understanding of the scope of the investigation.”
Rosenstein said he spends only about five percent of his week on the investigation and feels that Mueller is acting properly and moving in the right direction.
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"The special counsel is not an unguided missile." In an interview, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offered full-throated support for special counsel Robert Mueller and defended his investigation into Russian election meddling https://t.co/TyTIT0LmpJ pic.twitter.com/SFc2kn7abk
— CNN (@CNN) March 12, 2018
President Trump may call his efforts a “witch hunt,” but Rosenstein clearly doesn’t agree.
“The special counsel is not an unguided missile,” said Rosestein. “I don’t believe there is any justification at this point for terminating the special counsel.”
This was Rosenstein’s first interview on the subject since it was revealed more than a month ago that, at one point, Trump wanted to fire Mueller, and only backed down after his White House counsel Donald McGahn said he would resign if forced to fire him.
“I think it would be very difficult to find anybody better qualified for this job,” added Rosenstein. “I believe that, based upon his reputation, his service, his patriotism, his experience with the department and the FBI, he was an ideal choice for this task.”
Rosenstein said he did not expect to be in the public eye as much as he has, often being subjected to intense and even cruel criticism at times, but he would not trade his job at this point in time for any other.
“We need to do what we believe is right based on the facts and the law,” he said. “To the extent we get any criticism from any side, we need to set that aside. That can’t influence us in our decision making.”
Rosenstein said he has had to explain to his own two teenage children at times how he is doing his job in light of all the noise in the media and elsewhere.
“No offense,” Rosenstein said to the USA Today reporter interviewing him, he tells his kids to “ignore the media.”
“They know I’m here to do the right thing,” added Rosenstein.
So Rosenstein will continue to take his own advice and stand behind Muller because he believes eventually history will be on their side.
“I believe much of the criticism will fall by the wayside when people reflect on this era and the Department of Justice,” said Rosenstein.
“I’m very confident that when the history of this era is written,” concluded Rosenstein, “it will reflect that the department was operated with integrity.”