Rosenstein Says He ‘Kept the Faith’ as He Prepares to Depart DOJ

(Bloomberg) -- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller, said in something of a valedictory speech that “I took more than my fair share of criticism.”

“But I kept the faith, I followed the rules and I left my office in good hands,” he said Thursday in an address at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania that he described as one of his last while in the Justice Department’s second-ranking position.

Rosenstein is departing as new Attorney General William Barr takes charge of the Justice Department -- including the power to decide how much to make public when Mueller submits his final report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether anyone around Donald Trump conspired in the meddling. Mueller may issue the report as soon as next week.

Trump plans to nominate Jeffrey Rosen as the new deputy attorney general, the White House said on Tuesday night. The president and his supporters vociferously criticized Rosenstein, who oversaw Mueller’s work, arguing that the inquiry was tainted early on by anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice Department.

Rosenstein said in a question-and-answer sessions that the Justice Department is “being run in the right way.”

While the veteran federal prosecutor appeared ready to take on sensitive questions about his role, he wasn’t pressed about politically explosive topics such as how he maintained the department’s independence under Trump’s often scathing criticism of what the president calls Mueller’s “witch hunt.”

In interviews to promote a book, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said that in the tumultuous days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Rosenstein brought up the idea of wearing a wire to secretly record Trump as well as the possibility of invoking the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove the president on the grounds he was unfit for office. The Justice Department has disputed McCabe’s depiction of the conversations.

On Monday, Trump tweeted that it looked like Rosenstein and McCabe “were planning a very illegal act, and got caught.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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