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Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, facing questions about his handling of the Russia collusion investigation.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, went directly to the questionable circumstance involving President Trump’s former national security advisor Mike Flynn.
The senator pointed to records that showed the FBI wanted to close the investigation on Flynn until fired agent Peter Strzok intervened, that their own notes show “that the FBI may have deliberately set Flynn up to prosecute him, or get him fired,” and that the bureau “had no derogatory information on Flynn” and “no predicate to interview him.”
Addressing the witness, Grassley accused Rosenstein of withholding the records from Congress and Flynn’s legal team, along with special counsel Robert Mueller, and also accused him of not only misleading him, but the American people.
“In June of 2018, I met with you to discuss the Flynn case and my other oversight requests,” the Republican lawmaker said. “You suggested to me that Congress should be satisfied with the facts contained in the plea agreement. In light of all of the Brady material that has finally been released, it is clear that you were misleading me, Congress and the American people when you suggested we should be satisfied with Flynn’s plea agreement.”
Shifting his focus to the infamous Russian dossier, which Grassley reminded him was “paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the [Hillary] Clinton campaign,” he asked Rosenstein if he instructed Mueller to investigate the origins of the dossier?”
In responding, Rosenstein said, “I certainly did not intend to mislead you or anybody else.”
He explained he was “reluctant to disclose information” because the case was pending in court, insisting that he wasn’t concealing anything.
“I obviously didn’t know there was exculpatory evidence,” he claimed.
As for Grassley’s question, Rosenstein said his goal with the special counsel “was to keep that investigation focused and get it resolved as expeditiously as possible,” and that any effort to investigate the dossier “would be far more complicated and take more time.”
“So, no, I did not ask Mueller to do that,” he said.
Grassley moved on to the FISA applications used to spy on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, noting that Rosenstein approved the fourth and final FISA against Page.
He then asked him if he was aware that intelligence reports warned that the Steele dossier was a product of Russian disinformation, and that it was not fully verified. He also asked Rosenstein if he was aware some of the sources supported Clinton, before asking him why he approved the FISA?
“I did not,” he answered, pointing out that the Steele Dossier is not in the FISA.
“My understanding is that what is in the affidavits is verified,” Rosenstein continued. “So the Steele Dossier and all the nonsense in the media about these allegations that have been made, that is not in the FISA application. What’s in the FISA application, my understanding, was verified information. Of course, there is other information. It is not just information that came from Mr. Steele.”
Grassley also asked Rosenstein about some nefarious emails he had sent near the end of his time with the Justice Department.
Asking who he was referring to as “the boss,” Rosenstein said it was then-Attorney General Jess Sessions, and warned that emails can be taken out of context.
Here’s a quick sampling of online responses to Rosenstein’s testimony from Twitter:
Why hasn't anyone, particularly Sens Graham or Grassley, asked Rosenstein whether he actually read the FISA application he signed? He keeps talking about 'what I understood' was in it. Did he read request for a warrant to investigate POTUS's associates before signing it?
— Andy McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) June 3, 2020
Grassley hitting Rosenstein on him and Mueller withholding exculpatory evidence on @GenFlynn
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) June 3, 2020
Grassley just said Rosenstein misled him and the public on the Flynn case. Rosenstein insisted that he did not know about the exculpatory evidence on Flynn and “that was news to me.” Rosenstein also said that he supports Durham investigating the dossier matter.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) June 3, 2020
Grassley says Rosenstein lied to him when he assured Grassley lawmakers should be satisfied with Flynn’s guilty plea. Rosenstein says he didn’t intent to mislead Grassley. “I obviously didn’t know that there was exculpatory evidence.” (This is because there wasn’t.)
— Dan Friedman (@dfriedman33) June 3, 2020
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