Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein delivered some remarks at the Armenian Bar Association’s Public Servants Dinner Thursday night — and made several assertions about the Russia investigation, including the role of the “previous administration,” that have turned some heads.
“At my confirmation hearing in March 2017, a Republican Senator asked me to make a commitment,” said Rosenstein. “He said: ‘You’re going to be in charge of this [Russia] investigation. I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that you’ll do it right, that you’ll take it to its conclusion and you’ll report [your results] to the American people.'”
“I did pledge to do it right and take it to the appropriate conclusion,” he said in defense of his handling of the investigation. “I did not promise to report all results to the public, because grand jury investigations are ex parte proceedings. It is not our job to render conclusive factual findings. We just decide whether it is appropriate to file criminal charges.”
Rosenstein then dropped a series of loaded claims about the Obama administration’s handling of Russian meddling, “selectively leaked” classified information, and the actions of fired FBI Director James Comey (h/t Ed Morrissey).
“Some critical decisions about the Russia investigation were made before I got there,” said Rosenstein. “The previous administration chose not to publicize the full story about Russian computer hackers and social media trolls, and how they relate to a broader strategy to undermine America. The FBI disclosed classified evidence about the investigation to ranking legislators and their staffers. Someone selectively leaked details to the news media. The FBI Director announced at a congressional hearing that there was a counterintelligence investigation that might result in criminal charges. Then the former FBI Director alleged that the President pressured him to close the investigation, and the President denied that the conversation occurred.”
He followed up that rather damning critique with an understated one-liner: “So that happened.” He then turned to a humorous reference to describe how he felt walking into his role as acting attorney general. “There is a story about firefighters who found a man on a burning bed. When they asked how the fire started, he replied, ‘I don’t know. It was on fire when I lay down on it.’ I know the feeling.”
The “bottom line,” he said, is “there was overwhelming evidence that Russian operatives hacked American computers and defrauded American citizens, and that is only the tip of the iceberg of a comprehensive Russian strategy to influence elections, promote social discord, and undermine America, just like they do in many other countries.”
Rosenstein also took a few lethal shots at the “mercenary critics,” who “get paid to express passionate opinions about any topic, often with little or no information,” and apparently believe it’s their job to “launch ad hominem attacks unrestricted by truth or morality,” “make threats,” and “spread fake stories.”
Those who leaked against Trump are beginning to leak against the failed coup. I guess leaking isn’t such a great thing anymore?