Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's memo recommending the firing of former FBI Director James Comey could be part of a criminal investigation into the president's relationship with Russian Federation, according to one Democratic senator.
Rosenstein, according to his a copy of his prepared remarks at a briefing before the US House of Representatives, said that he learned on May 8 that Trump meant to fire Comey and that Trump sought Rosenstein's "advice and input" that same day.
Rosenstein told senators that he knew that Comey would be fired before he wrote a controversial memo that the White House initially used as its justification for the dismissal.
Rosenstein underscored that the memo he wrote was "not a legal brief" and was "not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination.[and] not a survey of FBI morale or performance" but instead "a candid internal memorandum about the FBI Director's public statements concerning a high-profile criminal investigation". "I believe it. I stand by it", according to Fox News.
Mr. Rubio said, "I'm not sure he addressed that with a level of clarity".
Now the Democrats have to rely on the results of former FBI director Robert Mueller's investigation to provide actual evidence of the left's repeated claims that there's a massive Trump/Russia conspiracy afoot. A Democratic representative described Rosenstein as "frustratingly cautious". "He was explicitly non-responsive", Sherman said.
"Just came out of the House briefing by the Deputy AG", Rep. Seth Moulton tweeted on Friday.
One new development from Friday's briefing: Rosenstein said news reports that Comey asked for and was denied more resources for the bureau's Russian Federation probe were not true.
"On May 8, I learned that President Trump meant to remove Director Comey and sought my advice and input", Rosenstein said. Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe has also testified he wasn't aware of any such request.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, said Rosenstein was asked about the timeline of Comey's firing and essentially replied, "Let the record speak for itself".
Some Democrats left the briefing saying they were not satisfied with the information Rosenstein provided.
"I thought the July 5 press conference was profoundly wrong and unfair both to the Department of Justice and Secretary Clinton", said Rosenstein, adding, "It violated deeply ingrained rules and traditions, and it guaranteed that some people would accuse the Federal Bureau of Investigation of interfering in the election".
Soon after the briefing, the Justice Department released the opening statement Rosenstein gave the House members as well as the Senate, whom he he briefed Thursday afternoon.
In a statement on Friday seen by Reuters, Rosenstein writes: "I informed the senior attorney that the president was going to remove Director Comey, (and) that I was writing a memorandum to the attorney general summarizing my own concerns".
In a letter calling for Comey's dismissal, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions pointed to his "evaluation, and ... the reasons expressed by (Rosenstein)". Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota said Rosenstein was asked repeatedly who told him to write it, and he would not say, adding that it was part of Mueller probe. "Even if Special Counsel Mueller wants to investigate the circumstances surrounding the memo, he has that authority", Butterfield said.
"This is a fight for the soul of our democracy", Rep. Elijah Cummings told reporters after the closed briefing. At this point, however, Scalise affirms that the House intelligence committee will continue doing what it's been doing.
"Basically, it's nice he made a decision to come to up to the Hill but it would have been nicer if he had come up and wanted to tell us something", McGovern told reporters. Trump told NBC two days after firing Comey, however, that he meant to do it "regardless" of Rosenstein's recommendation.
"He basically said that the investigation will make that determination".
Sherman, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters that while Washington investigations are exploring whether there was collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Kremlin and a possible cover-up, "neither of them have been proven".
"It was a powerful moment".