Graham: Rosenstein may have to recuse himself from Russia probe

Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein is "conflicted" as the head of the Russia inquiry and may have to recuse himself if he...

Posted: Jun 5, 2018 4:53 PM
Updated: Jun 5, 2018 4:53 PM

Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein is "conflicted" as the head of the Russia inquiry and may have to recuse himself if he witnessed President Donald Trump attempt to interfere with the investigation, according to a senior Senate Republican.

In a move that could add new pressure on Rosenstein, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CNN Tuesday that he has written a letter questioning the deputy attorney general's role in charge of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

He noted that Rosenstein may be a witness to the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, a matter that the Mueller team has been investigating for months to determine whether the president inappropriately sought to interfere with the Russia investigation.

"I think Rosenstein is conflicted," Graham told CNN. "If you're looking at obstruction of justice misconduct post-presidency, the Comey firing as being a form of obstruction of justice, then Rosenstein is a key witness in that and you can't be a witness and oversee the investigation."

The comments come as Rosenstein already has faced sharp criticism from Trump and growing scrutiny from House Republicans, who have demanded a swath of documents while warning they may hold him in contempt of Congress if the Justice Department fails to fully comply. While Senate Republicans have largely shied away from that fight with Rosenstein, Graham's concerns could pick up steam in GOP circles as Republicans raise questions about how the Mueller investigation is being carried out.

In the May 31 letter, Graham noted that Trump initially relied on a Rosenstein memo from May 2017 as his justification for firing Comey. He asked Rosenstein if he considers himself a "potential witness" regarding the firing of Comey.

"If so, should you recuse yourself from further interactions with and oversight of the Mueller investigation?" Graham asked in the letter.

Justice officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the letter.

CNN reported in April that Rosenstein has been in consultation with the senior ethics adviser at the Justice Department about this issue and has followed that individual's advice.

"You know he's a fine man, very ethical, good guy, but we're going to have to play this thing straight," Graham said Tuesday in the Capitol. "And here's the question for Rosenstein, 'If you're going to be a fact witness as to why Comey was fired, how do you stay involved?'"

Graham on Tuesday also broke with Trump, who publicly berated Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the investigation into any potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia -- because Sessions played a major role in the Trump campaign. Graham said Sessions made the right call.

"I don't think there's any lawyer in the country that would advise Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself," Graham said. "I like Jeff. He serves at the pleasure of the President. Replacing Jeff Sessions would be chaos. But after Mueller does his job, then I think if he wants a different attorney general it would be easier to do."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 154411

Reported Deaths: 3836
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10332104
Hinds10190199
Harrison7244111
Jackson6521124
Rankin5805103
Lee523695
Madison4964107
Forrest388286
Jones367788
Lauderdale3575147
Lafayette334952
Washington3241108
Lamar296650
Oktibbeha251362
Lowndes243864
Bolivar242984
Panola229653
Neshoba2241118
Marshall221250
Leflore207791
Monroe203978
Pontotoc202929
Lincoln194865
Sunflower192555
Warren178757
Tate177051
Union171026
Copiah167040
Pike164758
Yazoo158840
Scott157930
Itawamba156135
Alcorn154828
Pearl River154168
Coahoma151943
Simpson151953
Prentiss149531
Adams144451
Grenada142845
Leake139444
Holmes132361
Tippah128030
Covington127939
George126425
Winston124526
Hancock123640
Wayne120623
Marion118646
Attala117534
Tishomingo110842
Chickasaw109032
Newton108029
Tallahatchie97727
Clay93427
Clarke93053
Jasper84822
Stone80015
Calhoun78113
Walthall77229
Montgomery75825
Carroll74015
Lawrence73414
Smith72816
Noxubee72517
Yalobusha72328
Perry68126
Tunica62319
Greene61222
Claiborne58916
Jefferson Davis58817
Amite55814
Humphreys54719
Benton49918
Quitman4977
Webster46414
Kemper44718
Wilkinson40422
Jefferson36411
Franklin3535
Choctaw3507
Sharkey32317
Issaquena1204
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 249524

Reported Deaths: 3578
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33064500
Mobile19951362
Madison13596148
Tuscaloosa13246154
Montgomery12435236
Shelby1061677
Baldwin889098
Lee781466
Morgan686150
Etowah643966
Calhoun6430121
Marshall635355
Houston537738
DeKalb492236
Cullman451542
Limestone433345
St. Clair432555
Lauderdale422354
Elmore412964
Walker3710111
Talladega359354
Jackson329823
Colbert329642
Blount299740
Autauga278042
Franklin256434
Coffee248315
Dale236254
Chilton227438
Dallas226832
Russell22383
Covington220434
Escambia198931
Tallapoosa184391
Chambers177950
Pike159914
Clarke159819
Marion143636
Winston135123
Lawrence131636
Pickens125718
Geneva12438
Marengo123124
Bibb119617
Barbour117811
Butler117842
Randolph104921
Cherokee103424
Hale97831
Fayette92516
Washington92219
Clay92024
Henry8756
Lowndes80229
Monroe79011
Cleburne77814
Macon74522
Crenshaw72030
Bullock70219
Perry6906
Lamar6898
Conecuh68814
Wilcox64218
Sumter58622
Greene42818
Choctaw42713
Coosa3544
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