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."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 1097
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Hennepin8738633
Ramsey3189134
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Nobles15585
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Dakota138859
Washington67033
Olmsted65411
Kandiyohi5051
Rice4802
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Clay43529
Mower3662
Wright3322
Todd3300
Sherburne2482
Carver2242
Benton1813
Steele1670
Blue Earth1480
Martin1325
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St. Louis11814
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Nicollet8810
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Watonwan780
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Carlton750
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Lyon711
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Cass122
Pipestone120
Wilkin113
Aitkin110
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Pope90
Koochiching90
Big Stone80
Lincoln60
Mahnomen61
Yellow Medicine60
Redwood60
Renville50
Traverse40
Grant40
Red Lake40
Clearwater30
Hubbard30
Lac qui Parle30
Roseau30
Houston20
Stevens10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 20264

Reported Deaths: 574
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4406134
Woodbury281737
Black Hawk175946
Linn96779
Dallas92924
Buena Vista9181
Marshall90118
Johnson6169
Wapello60714
Muscatine56341
Crawford5422
Tama40828
Scott36810
Dubuque35121
Louisa34611
Pottawattamie29610
Sioux2900
Jasper26317
Wright1940
Washington1928
Warren1530
Plymouth1392
Allamakee1204
Story1181
Mahaska9712
Poweshiek918
Henry722
Bremer696
Boone670
Des Moines661
Clinton651
Clarke640
Taylor590
Guthrie533
Cedar491
Hamilton450
Benton441
Webster441
Monroe385
Shelby370
Jones370
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Marion340
Clayton343
Osceola340
Iowa330
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Madison292
Lee280
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Monona250
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Clay210
Grundy200
Mills200
Floyd191
Emmet190
Hardin190
Lucas191
Delaware191
Humboldt181
Butler171
Hancock160
Franklin150
Page140
Pocahontas140
Ida140
Keokuk140
Appanoose143
Audubon131
Jackson130
Greene130
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Winnebago110
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Union90
Van Buren90
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Adams70
Palo Alto70
Calhoun40
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