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: 352891

Reported Deaths: 7597
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds24704451
DeSoto23619283
Harrison21395335
Jackson15984255
Rankin15957294
Madison11224227
Lee10952180
Jones9316171
Forrest9136163
Lauderdale8211244
Lamar736590
Lowndes7253152
Lafayette6658125
Washington5681140
Pearl River5396155
Oktibbeha506598
Bolivar5022134
Warren4828128
Panola4823112
Marshall4759106
Pontotoc455773
Neshoba4487181
Hancock444488
Union441479
Monroe4390138
Lincoln4247116
Pike3771114
Leflore3696125
Alcorn362474
Tate356188
Sunflower351794
Adams350690
Scott349177
Yazoo344877
Copiah333569
Simpson329191
Itawamba318581
Tippah316569
Coahoma316385
Covington305584
Prentiss304163
Leake291976
Marion291882
George285851
Wayne282345
Grenada272488
Newton269264
Tishomingo241670
Stone240038
Winston238484
Jasper236248
Attala229974
Chickasaw222760
Clay204654
Holmes204374
Clarke190480
Tallahatchie185842
Smith184936
Calhoun184632
Yalobusha174241
Walthall151249
Lawrence146426
Greene144735
Amite140144
Noxubee137635
Perry137038
Montgomery134644
Carroll127531
Webster125132
Jefferson Davis121334
Tunica116627
Benton108425
Claiborne106131
Kemper105029
Humphreys102533
Franklin88724
Quitman86819
Choctaw83619
Wilkinson79632
Jefferson72328
Sharkey52018
Issaquena1746
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 595816

Reported Deaths: 11561
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson865251591
Mobile50436872
Madison37905534
Shelby27652260
Tuscaloosa27422465
Montgomery26428628
Baldwin26175329
Lee17414181
Calhoun15549334
Morgan15265291
Etowah15106372
Marshall13248236
Houston12297294
Elmore11006220
St. Clair10903252
Limestone10867158
Cullman10643206
Lauderdale10374255
DeKalb9603193
Talladega9032188
Walker7873288
Autauga7635114
Blount7463140
Jackson7450117
Colbert6780142
Coffee6515132
Dale5803117
Covington4864125
Russell483543
Chilton4828117
Franklin465681
Tallapoosa4591156
Escambia457583
Chambers4007125
Dallas3756164
Clarke374663
Marion3490107
Pike336979
Lawrence3280100
Winston301973
Bibb293766
Geneva293083
Marengo263867
Barbour254361
Pickens247962
Butler243672
Hale236979
Fayette228565
Henry218845
Monroe206941
Randolph203844
Cherokee201748
Washington189439
Macon172252
Crenshaw171758
Clay167659
Cleburne161845
Lamar152638
Lowndes146555
Wilcox132731
Bullock126542
Conecuh123032
Coosa119729
Perry111228
Sumter110933
Greene99937
Choctaw64525
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