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.

Confirmed Cases: 67649

Reported Deaths: 1912
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5613118
DeSoto365831
Harrison252036
Madison242266
Rankin228334
Jackson227642
Jones189958
Forrest180656
Washington166341
Lee146241
Lauderdale141292
Neshoba128692
Lamar122014
Oktibbeha112239
Bolivar111334
Warren109333
Lowndes107737
Panola105913
Sunflower103925
Scott100320
Lafayette97316
Copiah95428
Pike93636
Leflore93363
Holmes89248
Grenada84721
Yazoo83112
Pontotoc8278
Lincoln81741
Monroe79655
Simpson79630
Leake78825
Wayne76721
Coahoma76013
Tate73429
Marshall6959
Marion67720
Union63616
Adams62325
Winston62016
Covington61213
George5815
Pearl River55039
Newton54211
Tallahatchie53110
Attala52225
Walthall50220
Chickasaw46219
Noxubee45711
Alcorn4285
Calhoun4189
Tishomingo4175
Prentiss41210
Claiborne40713
Smith40513
Clay39614
Hancock39014
Jasper3869
Tippah36613
Itawamba35910
Tunica3377
Clarke32726
Montgomery3265
Lawrence3238
Yalobusha31510
Humphreys29311
Quitman2691
Carroll26111
Greene25012
Perry2367
Webster23412
Kemper23314
Amite2326
Jefferson Davis2316
Wilkinson21213
Stone1995
Sharkey1975
Jefferson1967
Benton1441
Choctaw1344
Franklin1272
Issaquena261
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99390

Reported Deaths: 1733
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13109243
Mobile9947207
Montgomery6835148
Madison537834
Tuscaloosa421373
Unassigned359961
Baldwin354425
Shelby328335
Marshall316736
Lee267845
Morgan239318
Etowah212131
DeKalb181913
Calhoun178414
Elmore172338
Walker152664
Houston139812
Russell13682
St. Clair133817
Limestone133313
Dallas132323
Franklin127420
Cullman122512
Colbert118113
Autauga116921
Lauderdale116719
Escambia108217
Talladega102614
Jackson9894
Tallapoosa85579
Chambers84138
Dale83424
Blount8004
Chilton7926
Butler76436
Coffee7616
Covington73520
Pike7097
Clarke6629
Barbour5755
Marion57424
Lowndes57224
Marengo55215
Hale47626
Bullock46411
Winston45311
Perry4424
Bibb4385
Wilcox42910
Monroe4214
Randolph40110
Pickens4009
Conecuh39310
Washington39112
Sumter36018
Lawrence3491
Macon33514
Crenshaw3185
Choctaw28312
Cherokee2737
Henry2633
Geneva2611
Clay2585
Greene25111
Lamar2222
Fayette2075
Cleburne1271
Coosa1012
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